Using my trusty sitemeter stats, I've noticed that a lot of people have found this blog while searching for information on the short list and short list alternate status of JET.
I feel for you people. I'm glad I never have to deal with that again.
If you remember, or if you want to scroll through my archives, last year, after going through the arduous task of applying and interviewing for JET, Emily was put on the short list and I was put on the alternate short list.
I was never upgraded, so my experience with JET pretty much ended right there. I waited and waited and waited and was finally officially informed sometime in October that I wasn't going to be upgraded (then I left for Japan 2 weeks later).
In my online research and in emails from past JET participants, I was told that there were three times when most of the upgrades occurred.
The first was right after the initial emails informing people of their status. They give you a week or two to respond to their offer of a position on the short list. Some people have decided to go to grad school or have been offered a job elsewhere, so some of the short listers don't accept and some of the alternates are moved up.
The second time is when all of the paperwork has to be mailed in by the short listers. I forgot exactly what the paperwork was, but I remember that your passport and a health form were part of it. Some short listers don't get this in on time and they bump up the corresponding alternates.
The third time is right after group A and group B orientation. Some short listers don't show up or freak out and go home. It happens every year. They bump up a handful of alternates to take their positions. They leave as part of group C.
It's all hearsay, but it logical and it makes sense, but please try to keep in mind that most, if not all, of the short listers are as excited to go to Japan as you are. The likelihood of them giving up their spot is as likely as you giving up your spot. Comprende?
Some of the consulates tell you where you are on the list and some don't. I recommend calling your consulate and letting them know that you are still very interested. Then try to pry some information out of them. The consulate in Miami wouldn't tell me a damn thing, but maybe you'll have better luck.
If you were lucky enough to get in though, congrats! You just have to wait to find your placement and whether you'll be in group A or group B (or group C if you are an upgraded alternate). You'll have some paperwork to fill out in the upcoming months, but it isn't too tedious.
Just chill out and relax for the next couple of months. If you don't have the chance to brush up on your Japanese, I would at least perfect the katakana and hiragana alphabet before you leave. You'll be surprised by the number of English words spelled out in katakana. It will make life, especially ordering off of menus, much easier.
But if you are one of those unlucky alternates, like me, who is never upgraded, there's always hope. Trust me when I say that there are plenty of jobs teaching English in Japan. You could make a pretty good living teaching private conversation classes without even having an official job. An hour enkai will pay between 3000-5000 yen (about 25-45 American dollars) depending on the number of students. If you can set up 10-20 of those a week, you'd be making pretty good money. You can also get a job with NOVA, AEON, or any number of small English schools. Only problem with that option, as compared to JET, is that you'll be making a fraction of the money, traveling a lot more, working a lot more hours, and you'll be forbidden to talk to your students outside of class.
But you'll still be in Japan.
But that's your life. You have to make those kind of decisions for yourself.
Nobody goes to Japan to get rich or to hone their teaching skills. 90% of the men go their to meet Japanese girls and the rest (men and women included) go their because they have an interest in some aspect of Japanese life, whether it be language, history, love of nature, anime, manga, or Razor Ramon (aka Hard Gay).