(Reposted from my now dead blog www.delightfullypretty.com on 12/25/2015)
I’ve been meaning to sit down and do a master post of sorts about KCP International Japanese Language School. Now that my application process is complete, I’ve received my visa, and I’ve finally just about finished packing, I think I am ready to share about my personal experience with the process.
*Your experience may vary, however, the KCP school has an excellent staff that both speaks English and provides lots of helpful information should you have questions if you contact them.*
How did you hear about KCP International?
About two or three years ago, I did some research on study abroad in Japan and actually came across someone on Youtube (I don’t remember their name right now, but if I do I will certainly link the video) who went to KCP and really recommended it. The internet is a wonderful tool sometimes, as I was able to do research on the school website as well as look for blogs/other people that went and read/hear their reviews/experiences. All the reviews were pretty positive so I figured it would be something I wouldn’t mind investing in to try for myself.
Why did you choose KCP International?
- Cost Effective/Financial Aid: My post-college life has been far from glamorous, so the cost of an overseas program was a very big thing for me. Of all of the programs I researched, this seemed to offer me the most bang for my buck. Also, the fact that I am technically not a study means that I do not qualify for a lot of scholarships/financial aid. Luckily, KCP has sponsor and affiliate schools here in the United States. These are schools that offer academic credit and sometimes even financial aid for their own students as well as nonstudents. By applying through one of these schools, I am able to receive both academic credit AND financial aid, since the school considers me a student for study abroad purposes (more on this below). This will probably open up a lot of doors for other people to receive scholarships (a lot of them I still don’t qualify for), but just being able to get financial aid to do this was an amazing help. It is actually the reason I am able to go for 6 months instead of just 3.
- Location: I try to be the flower that grows wherever it is planted, but I will not deny that being able to study and live in Tokyo is a great opportunity.
- The Quality of Instruction: This one was also big for me. Even if I am on a budget, I still want to be able to get quality instruction. What I really loved about this school is that student reviews across the board agreed that this was a rigorous program. They pretty much said it isn’t for the faint of heart and expect to spend at least 3 hours upwards after class studying. As much as I love goofing off, that was something that I was really looking for. Just in case I don’t get the opportunity to study abroad again (even though I want to), I want to make the most of my time and learn as much as possible in the time that I have now. I wanted something that would challenge me, and it seemed like this would do it.
- Staff: I haven’t stepped off the plane in Japan yet and this part I realized after I started the application process, but the staff (both Washington and Japan) have been great so far. They have explained everything to me in detail, answered promptly when I had questions, and the Washington office even gave me a call about my application (since I ran into some confusion) and explained more to me about the visa process, bank documents needed, etc. Whenever they send out materials, they are concise and answer pretty much every question I could have. The process was much less stressful than it could have been because of that and I really appreciated that.
So, how much did it cost?
You can always find the most updated costs for the program here on their website. Since I applied through a sponsor school for academic credit, the cost was a little bit more than if you’re just going it alone. Here is a breakdown of everything that I personally paid.
- Program Cost w/dorm option(minus the application fee): $14,200
- Application Fee (which goes towards the program cost): $350
- Application Fee for my sponsor school: I believe it was $60, though it could have been more. I can
- Visa Application Fee: $250
- Round-trip Airfare: $1400
I’m not sure if you want to count it, but it also cost me $50 to FedEx my Visa Application over to Japan. Which brings my total to ~$16,310 for just the program/lodging, airfare, and miscellaneous necessities. *Since I had financial aid, I had to pay 50% of the program fee up front and the rest is due when the financial aid is disbursed to me.
Now, of course, you are going to want to make sure you bring along some spending money, money for food if you do not get a meal plan (I didn’t because I wanted to be in a co-ed dorm), travel, etc. That is going to depend on how much you think you will spend/need to live for however long you are going.
Now, what about the application process?
The application process was pretty easy, but it did happen in two different parts for me. Since I needed financial aid, after contacting the sponsor schools to see which one would be able to help me with that, I ended up going through the University of Idaho. From here, I applied to KCP International and then applied to the University of Idaho as a student for study abroad purposes. After I got acceptance from both schools, I kept in contact with the University of Idaho until they told me that I would be getting financial aid. *Note that you would still have to fill out your FAFSA in order to be eligible.*
On the KCP International end, I then had to fill out their registration packet which included sending in ID photos, getting a physical evaluation, filling out a medical report, statement of financial responsibility, and student agreements.
For the University of Idaho, I had to complete their registration. This included letting them know where I wanted to send my transcripts, telling them if I needed insurance through the school or would have sufficient insurance on my own, completing risk waivers, and things of that sort.
Once all of this was set, I was able to start my visa application process. This is done with Mr.Tanaka in Japan who is very knowledgeable. Since I would be leaving in January, my visa deadline was August 31st.
I should note here that while this is called the visa application, what you receive is actually a Certificate of Eligibility. Pretty much immigration in Japan says you’re able to support yourself and after reviewing all your info, they think you seem pretty legit so they give you this pretty paper to take to the consulate as proof in order to get your visa.
What I personally needed for this was a record of all schools attended and full-time jobs held, a financial support statement, and information about my background. For this part of the application, you want to be able to show at least $15,000 in financial aid or in your bank account. Seriously. My funds were looking a little low (as I knew I would be working/saving up until the start of January) and Mr.Tanaka pretty much emailed me like “What’s up?”. So I ended up having to send in a little explanation and I included pay stubs, along with letters from my banks with how much money I had in my account, and my financial aid letter to help my cause…Anything for me to not be rejected.
I think this was the most stressful part of my application, but it worked out because I received my Certificate of Eligibility in the mail around the end of November. From here, I just had to send that over to the Japanese consulate in New York along with another photo of me (for my visa), and their visa application. I then received my visa with no issues.
*You can probably get less expensive plane tickets if you buy your tickets more in advance, but I was a little scared of being rejected so I ended up buying mine after I received my Certificate of Eligibility. I figured that was really half the battle and just hoped the visa would work out on its own.
I ordered myself some sushi and drank a beer because everything was complete!
What about your housing information?
Once everything is complete and paid for, you will receive your housing information about 2-3 weeks before you leave. This will also include your dorm rules, address, and instructions for meeting everyone at Narita Airport. It will also include a copy of the schedule for classes/calendar for the semester you are attending.
From here, the only thing left to do is pack and await your arrival day!
Okay, this was definitely pretty long and picture-less, but I hope the information was really helpful to someone. If you have any questions, comments, or just want to share your experience, please leave a comment below! You never know who it could possibly help
Until Next Time,