American Universities?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 20, 2008 12:39 PM GMT
    Help me out I thought I knew most of the differences between an American/Canadian and a British/European but I'm starting to think they may be more different than I realized.

    This is what I've gathered so far

    Universities in the US cost a lot of money so there is a lot of pressure on the students to gain value from tuition fees where as ours are government paid and there is less a lot fiscal contribution expected from students

    Most American students compete with each other rather than compete with a grading system as in the British/European system

    Most American grading is done under a curve

    The pass grade is 60% and most students aim for the 80-90 percentile where as in our system the pass grade is 40% and students aim for honors above 70%. Over 85% is unheard of.

    There is often separate honors and AP classes rather than have all the students educated together. Double standards are something most universities are heavily against in any form

    American students are often required to go through pre-med and pre-law stages of there education before they will be accepted into such courses where as we have direct entry into all such courses.

    American universities have the whole major/minor system and often spend a year or two covering broad ranges of subjects irrelevant or supplemental to your degree. where as the majority of our degree programs you start learning material for your degree on your first day
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    Mar 20, 2008 1:33 PM GMT
    i only read the first line..but here is my input...

    american universities are much much easier....america, by far, has the easiest educational system
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    Mar 20, 2008 2:04 PM GMT
    That was my inital impression looking at the number of classes required and the material covered by comparasin of my university requirements but my academic cordinators have all told me the opposite. Especially for science and engineering

    That said a few students I have befriended all said it wasn't as hard, a guy from huanities said it was equivilent to what he was doing in junior cycle
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    Mar 20, 2008 4:14 PM GMT
    I don't think that one can make sweeping generalizations about this. At most US universities - and even over-grown community colleges are now calling themselves "universities" - the students determine how much effort to put in to their education. It is possible to choose a curriculum - and many people do - that does not require study, reading comprehension, writing skills, or simple math, and yet still results in a degree. On the other hand, opportunities are available to assemble very demanding curricula. One may have to shop around to find a good program in a chosen field, but one can also shop around to find an "easy" program.

    For example, I have a friend who plotted his course of study by never taking a class that met before noon. He ended up with a master's degree in "university administration." Somehow, I fear that a negative feedback loop may be in effect there.
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    Mar 20, 2008 4:19 PM GMT
    Moudi saidi only read the first line..but here is my input...

    american universities are much much easier....america, by far, has the easiest educational system


    Really? Then why is it that 7 of the top 10 universities in the world are in the United States? That includes at least one public university (UC Berkeley). Looking at the top 200 universities, the amount of them that are based in the US is staggering. I don't think a system of higher education that could produce that many top schools could realistically be termed "the easiest."

    Top 200 Universities Worldwide

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    Mar 20, 2008 6:17 PM GMT
    Chewey_Delt said[quote][cite]Moudi said[/cite]i only read the first line..but here is my input...

    american universities are much much easier....america, by far, has the easiest educational system


    Really? Then why is it that 7 of the top 10 universities in the world are in the United States? That includes at least one public university (UC Berkeley). Looking at the top 200 universities, the amount of them that are based in the US is staggering. I don't think a system of higher education that could produce that many top schools could realistically be termed "the easiest."

    Top 200 Universities Worldwide

    [/quote]

    I second that!
  • Laurence

    Posts: 942

    Mar 20, 2008 6:27 PM GMT
    Come on guys it's a well known fact that the education standards are fairly low in the US.

    Wasn't there some recent US survey where a very low number of US students could actually point to the US on a world map?

    Coupled with the fact that you might get shot on the way to classicon_confused.gif

    I'd stick with a good old European education.

    Loz

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    Mar 20, 2008 6:33 PM GMT
    Laurence saidCome on guys it's a well known fact that the education standards are fairly low in the US.



    If it's a well know fact then I'm sure you can provide evidence to back that statement up icon_wink.gif
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    Mar 20, 2008 6:34 PM GMT
    It ends up being what you make of it. You can squander your education anywhere. People in my grad program came from a lot "better" schools than me, but have no idea what is going on because they never engaged the actual material.

    Education in the states almost seems like it is a right. I would be happier if fewer people went to college and more went to a trade school. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. A lot of people hate being here and are just doing so because it is basically a requirement now.
  • BlackJock79

    Posts: 437

    Mar 20, 2008 7:13 PM GMT
    Laurence saidCome on guys it's a well known fact that the education standards are fairly low in the US.

    Wasn't there some recent US survey where a very low number of US students could actually point to the US on a world map?

    Coupled with the fact that you might get shot on the way to classicon_confused.gif

    I'd stick with a good old European education.

    Loz



    I HIGHLY doubt that a "very low number" of US students were not able to find the US. The educational system isn't the best as far as free public schools but at the university level it's top notch or as Chewey Delt said, American Universities would not make up such a large number of the top learning institutions in the world. 7 out of the top 10 is a HUGE number of schools coming from ONE country.

    I do, however, think I remember that study you are speaking of and it wasn't recent, it was years ago. If I'm not mistaken they surveyed students in NEW YORK to see which of them could point out the state of New York on the map of the US. I remember seeing it on 60 minutes when I was in high school because I was shocked and appalled at the poor public school education they had received in New York. That's nothing against the US Universities though, I'm sure those idiots that couldn't even point to the state they live in never even came CLOSE to going to one. LOL! icon_lol.gif If you can find a study, the one you spoke of, please post it. I would like to see what group of idiots couldn't find the ENTIRE country. I REFUSE to believe that. There is no way in hell that a US student does not know where the US is and if that student does exist, trust me, he or she is borderline mentally disabled and does not represent the majority of the US students. Just the president. LOL!
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    Mar 20, 2008 7:22 PM GMT
    Laurence saidCome on guys it's a well known fact that the education standards are fairly low in the US.

    Wasn't there some recent US survey where a very low number of US students could actually point to the US on a world map?

    Coupled with the fact that you might get shot on the way to classicon_confused.gif

    I'd stick with a good old European education.

    Loz



    I will give you that for primary/secondary public education, but America's college level eductation is on par, or better, than anywhere else in the world. Public education depends upon children showing up with self discipline, inherent respect for authority, and openness to the concept of learning. We don't have that here in America because our parenting skills generally suck...
  • comtnjock

    Posts: 47

    Mar 20, 2008 7:44 PM GMT
    Not really. European/Asian Pacific university education is higher in quality than that of the university machine of the States. For instances, if you get your doctorate in the U.S. and move to Europe or Australia, you can not call yourself Docter Bob. Instead, your title is Bob Someone, Ph.D., Colorado School of Mines. If you get your doctorate in Europe/Asian Pacific, you will be known as Dr. there and here. There are more requirements everywhere but in the States. Foreign universities tend to give better education than that in the States. You must compare University to University for quality of education for international comparison.
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    Mar 20, 2008 7:56 PM GMT
    The reason so many American universities have required general studies classes (English 101, History 101, etc) is that most US high schools do not prepare students for a college level education vis a vis writing skills and basic historical, geographical, and scientific knowledge.

    Another difference, I believe, and Europeans please correct me if I am wrong, is that there are at least two tracks in higher education there, one leading to vocational skills, the other to academic studies. The US does not have that, so everyone here wants to go to university.
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    Mar 20, 2008 8:00 PM GMT
    Moudi saidi only read the first line..but here is my input...

    american universities are much much easier....america, by far, has the easiest educational system


    Could be that the teaching is just better, so they seem easier...

    or it could be the fine education kids get in school before college...

    Anal Exams


  • puttputt

    Posts: 254

    Mar 20, 2008 8:06 PM GMT
    Laurence saidCome on guys it's a well known fact that the education standards are fairly low in the US.

    Wasn't there some recent US survey where a very low number of US students could actually point to the US on a world map?

    Coupled with the fact that you might get shot on the way to classicon_confused.gif

    I'd stick with a good old European education.

    Loz



    Um... I don't think you should be comparing the K-12 educational system with American UNIVERSITIES. The universities here are highly respected around the world; just ask any international student. I've spoken to graduates of "good old European education" and although I do agree that they have strong programs in the liberal arts, science and technology are not very popular fields (France comes to mind).
  • allatonce

    Posts: 904

    Mar 20, 2008 8:35 PM GMT
    I am Canadian but have a few friends that are Americans who came up here because our tuition rates for international students are still cheaper than their tuition rates for schools in their own states. I can't believe how much it costs for an education in the United States. I don't know how common it is to change a major in the United States but I would imaging it isn't nearly as common as in Canada where most students end up changing their program at least once. I would guess our cheaper tuition allows us to change our minds more. I always feel bad about complaining for our highly subsidized costs for school when there is an American present to put me in my place.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 20, 2008 8:52 PM GMT
    analyticalbrewer saidNot really. European/Asian Pacific university education is higher in quality than that of the university machine of the States. For instances, if you get your doctorate in the U.S. and move to Europe or Australia, you can not call yourself Docter Bob. Instead, your title is Bob Someone, Ph.D., Colorado School of Mines. If you get your doctorate in Europe/Asian Pacific, you will be known as Dr. there and here. There are more requirements everywhere but in the States. Foreign universities tend to give better education than that in the States. You must compare University to University for quality of education for international comparison.


    Again, I ask how you can make this claim considering the staggering number of American universities that are listed among the top universities in the world.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Mar 20, 2008 8:57 PM GMT
    "There are more requirements everywhere but in the States"

    No. That's simply not the case. One easy refutation of this is the general education requirements referenced above which are nearly universal in the US and Canada but which are not part of the college curricula in most other Western nations.

    Beyond the undergraduate degree, a typical PhD in the natural sciences in the US is 5-6 years after the undergraduate degree. In the UK, it's about 3, with similar numbers in continental Europe. There are a number of reasons for this, particularly the structure of funding, but one of the realities is that graduate education within the US involves at least some graduate-level coursework, while that is very rare in the sciences in the British, German, or French systems. It's also the case that students who receive their doctorates in Europe are typically required to do longer postdoctoral work to be judged as equivalent to a student who did his/her doctorate within the US. Due in large part to the longer time frame of a US doctorate, most US-educated students will have more publications under their belt at the time they graduate than will be true in Europe, and thus be judged as being further along on the academic career track.

    In the larger points in this discussion, I feel several people are talking at cross purposes because they're engaging in different debates. Distinctions need to be drawn between:

    University education versus K-12 education. The US is clearly much stronger in the former than in the latter. There is a reason why our universities attract so many foreign students, particularly in the sciences and engineering, and why the graduate programs are an even greater international draw.

    The average university versus the elite university. In part due to the sheer size of the US, we have many more universities than most western nations do. Even if the educational attainments of the median students were identical between, say, the US and the UK, you would expect a greater proportion of the top-notch universities to be US rather than UK ones. All three of the universities I've attended happen to be on that list of the top 200 universities, ranging from number 6 (Stanford) through number 101 (Southern California) to number 163 (Michigan State). I can tell you that the average abilities of the students at these institutions varies markedly, and these are still among the elites. 3rd and 4th tier universities in the US are clearly not the equal, on average, to the better schools around the world. At the same time, no country on Earth has an educational system where the average student within it is equal to the average student at Harvard or Berkeley (the most frequently cited top US universities in the private and public spheres, respectively).

    (Imagine two bell shaped distributions with identical means. Make one of the distributions 5 times as tall as the other one. Draw a line representing the top 5% of all institutions. Note that many more of them will be from the taller distribution, even though the two have the same underlying pattern, because of sheer weight of numbers. Simultaneously, more of the bottom 5% will also be in the higher distribution. The underlying notion is that with a larger sample size you will have more values at the extremes of absolute values in the distributions, even with identical means and standard deviations.)

    A caveat also needs to be attached to the surveys of what high school students do and do not know. International assessments are occasionally taken, and clearly identified as such. Students are well aware of the fact that the answers they provide on such assessments will not count toward their grades. As such, there is little motivation to perform at one's best, and a certain juvenile humor involved in giving adults a heart attack that one is incapable of finding one's own country or state on a map. With a US culture that purports to value independence and rebellion against authority, this is an entirely safe form of rebellion which can insulate a student's self-image without having true consequences on his/her life.

    In regards to the original points:

    - The amount of grading done on a curve varies tremendously both within and between universities. Introductory classes are typically curved, particularly in mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, economics, and psychology. Upper division coursework rarely is, and is more often presented in seminars and discussions rather than in large lectures. Many courses in the social sciences and humanities are graded primarily on the basis of term papers, which are very rarely graded on a percentage system, and consequently rarely curved themselves.

    - The idea of competing against each other is itself based on a curve. Without a curve, there is no competition from one student to another.

    - The pass grade itself is highly variable from professor to professor and course to course. I know in my first semester of physics, the pass grade was somewhere around a 60. In my second semester, it must have been much lower as there were only 3 of us in a class of ~170 who were above a 40%.

    - Undergraduate college degrees are indeed required for medical and law school. Most students planning to become physicians take an undergraduate degree in biology (as medical schools require 2 years of biology, 2 years of chemistry, a year of physics, and a year of mathematics anyway, a major in biology is not far beyond that). Many students planning law school study political science and/or economics.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Mar 20, 2008 9:24 PM GMT
    American universities are primarily a business/research venture where everywhere else in the world is primarily an institution of higher education.

    Case in point: College sports. Exhorbitant prices are for promoting a name brand and using the latest and greatest technology in order to compete with other like-minded (and seemingly universal) universities.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 20, 2008 9:31 PM GMT
    To be a popular writer in the U.S., one must write for a literate 4th grader. The illiteracy rate in the U.S. is almost 50%. Take a look at the posts on RealJock. If you were an English teacher, you'd have to fail a good number of guys here who are American because they can't spell, form a sentence or follow some pretty simple rules of grammar.
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    Mar 20, 2008 9:36 PM GMT
    Chewey_Delt said[quote][cite]Moudi said[/cite]i only read the first line..but here is my input...

    american universities are much much easier....america, by far, has the easiest educational system


    Really? Then why is it that 7 of the top 10 universities in the world are in the United States? That includes at least one public university (UC Berkeley). Looking at the top 200 universities, the amount of them that are based in the US is staggering. I don't think a system of higher education that could produce that many top schools could realistically be termed "the easiest."

    Top 200 Universities Worldwide

    [/quote]

    u are looking at some of the big name colleges here...but most average state universities nation wide are not as hard..try studying abroad..ull see a difference..most american colleagues i know can testify to that, not to mention many professors of mine at Utah State University. I personally would say what my GPA shot up wheni came here...
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Mar 20, 2008 10:20 PM GMT
    Oh, one other major difference between the US/Canadian system and most others. In general, in the US you are not admitted to study a specific major. There are exceptions, such as that one generally has to audition to be admitted as a student majoring in the performing arts, but within the standard set of academic subjects students are free to switch majors at pretty much any point. I've know people to switch across really broad swaths - physics to anthropology, or chemical engineering to communications, for example - and students to switch within much closer distances (computer science to applied mathematics, for example). Though you can check off an intended major on your application to most schools, you are not really competing for a spot to be a student in a specific discipline as much as you are competing to be a student at a given university or college.
  • Bunjamon

    Posts: 3161

    Mar 20, 2008 11:12 PM GMT
    Socialized education, like the systems in Canada and in Europe, allow for everyone to get a university education, which is so vital in today's career world. Everyone is saying that the Doctorate is the new Masters. Who can afford to get either in the States when it costs USD$45,000 a year? Sure, take out loans, but where does that leave you?
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Mar 20, 2008 11:26 PM GMT
    "Everyone is saying that the Doctorate is the new Masters. Who can afford to get either in the States when it costs USD$45,000 a year?"

    Something I think a lot of people don't realize is...most often, you get paid to be a PhD student, and your tuition is covered by your department. It depends on the field you're studying, and the school you're attending, and there's variation in whether your stipend is attached to teaching, conduction specific research which may not be part of your thesis, or is fellowship money (and thus virtually no strings attached), but it's still generally a number in the black, not the red. I took a pay cut when I moved to this school, but I still make enough as a PhD student to cover my bills (including a mortgage payment) and max out my retirement savings without taking out a loan. Humanities students are typically in a tougher financial position, but this is also partly related to standard market forces. There's more of a demand outside of academia for a person with training as say, a chemist, than there is for someone with training as a philosopher, and thus compensation will tend to be higher when demand is higher relative to supply.

    Medical and legal education, on the other hand, requires you to pay through the nose. You'll also typically cough up a large amount if you're enrolled as a master's student, but in many fields you don't need a master's first in order to go for the doctorate.
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    Mar 20, 2008 11:46 PM GMT
    Bunjamon saidSocialized education, like the systems in Canada and in Europe, allow for everyone to get a university education, which is so vital in today's career world. Everyone is saying that the Doctorate is the new Masters. Who can afford to get either in the States when it costs USD$45,000 a year? Sure, take out loans, but where does that leave you?


    Why does everyone just automatically think of expensive universities?

    The 4 state universities here in CT cost under $3500 for in state. The same goes for plenty of in state campus's.