It’s been a little over a week since the JET Program application opened, and as I expected, there is a massive amount of paperwork. So I guess this leads me to my first piece of advice for anyone going through this process: start as soon as possible.
In fact, you probably should have started before the application even opened. The JET website has a list of documents that are needed for the program, and like many others, I looked at this list and just decided that I would keep them in mind, but wait until the application opens until I actually start collecting them. Although I don’t feel like I am going to run out of time, as the application still has over a month left and I am far ahead of schedule, I feel like I am stressing a lot more now than I would have if I started sooner.
There is no secret with regards to what will be on the application. The required documents are all online with descriptions of what is expected of them. Some of them cannot be done ahead of time, but as for the transcripts, proof of citizenship, proof of graduation, etc, you should have those on hand to be uploaded the moment the application opens. The letters of recommendation have to go through the JET system, but you could start asking professors if they would be interested far before the application opens.
Probably the hardest (and most important) aspect of the application, though, is the Statement of Purpose. This is a two page paper where you sell yourself to JET, and according to what I have read online, this section holds an immense amount of weight. But like every other part of the application, there is a ton of information about it online, down to the exact requirements and tips for polishing your essay to perfection.
There is nothing stopping you from starting your statement of purpose before the application opens. In fact, I feel like I should have been done with it a long time ago. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to condense years of research, passion, and qualifications down to a two page essay, but here I am desperately trying to come up with the right words to say in order to sound eloquent without being pretentious, while still filling the space with all the necessary and relevant information.
Everyone knows about this application process. Most of what you have heard is true. There is a lot that needs to be collected and a lot of creative thinking to do, and any portion that is left out will cause your entire application to be tossed. Take this process very seriously.
So now, here I am staring down several confusing questions, contacting professors, running all over town trying to collect documents, and wracking my brain to think of the best statement of purpose essay I can write. And in all of this I’m thinking, “Why didn’t I start doing this when I had nothing to do this summer?”
There really is tons of work to do with regards to this whole process. Lots of scanning and writing and contacting important people and thinking. Just because the application hasn’t officially opened doesn’t mean you can’t be setting this stuff into motion. For those of you who aren’t planning on applying until next year, please keep this in mind, and get a head-start months in advance. You’ll be thanking me when the application opens up and you have everything on hand ready to be submitted. But for the rest of us, all we can do is just keep on keeping on.