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The American University

 
 
Reply Sat 31 May, 2008 12:15 pm
de_budding wrote:
In the UK we don't major or minor ... college is before university ...


I thought these were some interesting comments on the differences in schooling between the U.S. and U.K.

It brings up a series of questions, but maybe for starters: has the American university system become merely a path to a job?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,198 • Replies: 11
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Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 May, 2008 02:37 pm
@Resha Caner,
Other than agricultural and technical schools, most college and university curricula here are liberal arts-based, and at least my profession (medicine) is LESS purely "job"-oriented than in England. In the United States one has to complete 4 years of college before beginning medical school (which of course is a professional degree program). In England and most (if not all) of Europe, one begins medical school directly after high school -- there is no 'premed' experience.

So during my 4 years of college, I was premed but all that meant was I took 4 required courses for med school application and I received career counseling. But my major (and my undergraduate degree) was in biochemistry, I minored in medieval studies, I studied Spanish and philosophy, and I spent a semester abroad. Most of my college experience had very little to do with job training.

Once I began medical school (as well as my postgraduate medical training, i.e. residency and fellowship), it WAS purely focused on the job. But college was about growth, exposure, and experience.
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boagie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 May, 2008 03:28 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
I thought these were some interesting comments on the differences in schooling between the U.S. and U.K.
It brings up a series of questions, but maybe for starters: has the American university system become merely a path to a job?


Resha Caner,Smile

:)In the eyes of many that is its function. I would worry more about free speech, the sanctity of independent thought and the institution itself. Ward Churchill the over night famous professor for quoting Malcom X after the 9/11 attack, stating, "It is nothing but chickens coming home to roost."
The professor has been driven out of his position under a barrage of death threats, he appears to be scholastically fininshed. The right wing are entirely pleased that they can silence an unpopular truth. Is free speech still alive and well in the U.K.?:confused: They will come for you later!!:p
Vasska
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 May, 2008 04:17 pm
@boagie,
American (And South-Korean) schools is all about competition, you've got to
start when you are 13 to get good grades and extra credits, after school activities, to join an university.

Britain (and most European schools) do not have this system. Having a ticket (in the form of a diploma from your previous school) is enough to get in. Maybe you have to be drawn from a bowl of papers with names on them, but that's only because of the limited places and regardless of any other (external) factors.

The American/South Korean school has some advantages over the European one's but I'm still questioning if it is healthy. Any Americans with their feelings on the subject?
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 May, 2008 04:27 pm
@Vasska,
Vasska wrote:
American (And South-Korean) schools is all about competition... Any Americans with their feelings on the subject?
It's competitive in Europe too. Not just anyone gets to go to Oxford.

The WORST thing about higher education in America is that it's exorbitantly expensive, and its price is increasing several times faster than inflation. We've got an 8 week old son and we're already putting money aside for his education.

The BEST thing about higher education in America is that there are so many great choices. There are small liberal arts colleges, large universities, public and private institutions, military colleges, science and technology schools, community colleges, religious colleges, etc. There really is something for everything. Furthermore, there is a tremendous amount of academic expertise in the US, so that a college applicant can fairly easily find a place that's likely to be a good academic fit.

Sure, it's competitive to go to an elite school. But you don't have to go to Princeton or Stanford to get a very strong education. In fact the real strengths of the major universities, like the Ivy League schools or like Stanford or Johns Hopkins or UC Berkeley, etc, lies in their graduate education and research. Being an undergraduate at Harvard is not all that different than being an undergraduate at any number of other universities and colleges. But of course Harvard has its graduate schools, professional schools, research, museums, etc, so it stands out in this regard.

Furthermore, most faculty at non elite universities got their education at elite universities. There is a lot of cross-fertilization between the major highly recognized places and the smaller liberal arts schools that someone from overseas might not have heard of.
Vasska
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 May, 2008 04:50 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
It's competitive in Europe too. Not just anyone gets to go to Oxford.

The WORST thing about higher education in America is that it's exorbitantly expensive, and its price is increasing several times faster than inflation. We've got an 8 week old son and we're already putting money aside for his education.

Same is starting in Europe, prices are getting higher and higher by mismanagement of the European Union and education.

Quote:
The BEST thing about higher education in America is that there are so many great choices. There are small liberal arts colleges, large universities, public and private institutions, military colleges, science and technology schools, community colleges, religious colleges, etc. There really is something for everything. Furthermore, there is a tremendous amount of academic expertise in the US, so that a college applicant can fairly easily find a place that's likely to be a good academic fit.

Please tell me how many of them are good. I can only name a handful of all the colleges and universities in my country. I don't say that Harvard or Princeton is better than a random college, it can be the exact opposite. But education differs a lot depending on the schools you go to. A low level university were many people can get in without competing is so much less rewarding than a school were everyone wants to learn and graduate.

Quote:
Being an undergraduate at Harvard is not all that different than being an undergraduate at any number of other universities and colleges. But of course Harvard has its graduate schools, professional schools, research, museums, etc, so it stands out in this regard.

I'm just curious. Undergraduate means being a bachelor and graduate means master? Anyhow when I look at the American educational system I always try to think of something less complex. If I'm right the American way is:


  • Primary school
  • Secondary School
  • High school

Drop out or not...

  • Some college / College preparation school
  • University / Professional University
Resha Caner
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 May, 2008 05:15 pm
@Vasska,
Vasska wrote:
If I'm right the American way is:


  • Primary school
  • Secondary School
  • High school
Drop out or not...

  • Some college / College preparation school
  • University / Professional University

[/LIST]
You've basically got it right, except that stopping after highschool is not considered "dropping out". One is only required to complete the 8th grade (what we would call junior highschool - you called it secondary school). Public education is free up through highschool, and most jobs require a highschool diploma. Once you enter college, the student must pay for it.

A bachelor's degree requires attending a full 4-year college, but you can start with a 2-year junior college, which is a completion of basic English, Math, Science, etc. skills, but at a college level.

In the U.S., "college" and "university" are almost synonomous. In most cases, "college" means a small school focused mainly on liberal arts curriculums. "University" means a collection of "colleges", where each specializes in engineering, business, medicine, agriculture, etc. I think that's how we've come to associate "university" with getting a job.

Given that we don't have a noble class with leisure time, I'm not sure it could be done any other way. At the same time, I don't like it.

As I mentioned in another thread, I wanted a minor degree in history, but the college of engineering wouldn't allow it.
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Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 May, 2008 09:15 pm
@Vasska,
Vasska wrote:
Please tell me how many of them are good. I can only name a handful of all the colleges and universities in my country. I don't say that Harvard or Princeton is better than a random college, it can be the exact opposite. But education differs a lot depending on the schools you go to.
Just in greater Boston, where I spent the last three years, there are numerous internationally renowned colleges and universities that attract highly competitive applicants from around the world. When you look at their admission criteria, research productivity, and the success of their graduates, they are ALL outstanding colleges. These include Harvard University, Tufts University, Wellesley College, Boston College, Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brandeis University, and to a lesser extent Northeastern University. The Harvard Medical students whom I taught had come from all of these colleges and universities -- so even Harvard Medical School, which is probably the most selective medical school in the country, recognizes all of these institutions.

In Connecticut, my home state, Yale University, Trinity College, Connecticut College, Wesleyan University, and the University of Connecticut are also competitive and internationally known -- they all draw applicants from around the country and the world.

Here in North Carolina, UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, Wake Forest University, and Davidson College are similarly well known.

To be sure Harvard and MIT are more selective than Boston University and Trinity College. But the latter two are not exactly uncompetitive community colleges, they're outstanding schools unto themselves.

Quote:
A low level university were many people can get in without competing is so much less rewarding than a school were everyone wants to learn and graduate.
Agreed. But all of the above are highly competitive schools.
Vasska
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Jun, 2008 02:19 am
@Aedes,
Resha Caner wrote:

[/list]
You've basically got it right, except that stopping after highschool is not considered "dropping out". One is only required to complete the 8th grade (what we would call junior highschool - you called it secondary school). Public education is free up through highschool, and most jobs require a highschool diploma. Once you enter college, the student must pay for it.


As I understand American schools keep counting from primary school. There is grade 1 to 12, and only 1 to 8 mandatory. 9 to 12 is called highschool and between the age of 14-18. Am I right?

Then after you finish highschool you can chose to which college you go? regardless of your level, but in some cases depending on your CV (Harvard etc). You don't have levels of education as we have here (low-middle-high) that allows you in colleges that are also rated (low-middle-high).

Quote:

A bachelor's degree requires attending a full 4-year college, but you can start with a 2-year junior college, which is a completion of basic English, Math, Science, etc. skills, but at a college level.
Same here, but this junior college is called college preparation right?

Aedes wrote:
Just in greater Boston, where I spent the last three years, there are numerous internationally renowned colleges and universities that attract highly competitive applicants from around the world. When you look at their admission criteria, research productivity, and the success of their graduates, they are ALL outstanding colleges. These include Harvard University, Tufts University, Wellesley College, Boston College, Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brandeis University, and to a lesser extent Northeastern University. The Harvard Medical students whom I taught had come from all of these colleges and universities -- so even Harvard Medical School, which is probably the most selective medical school in the country, recognizes all of these institutions.

All right, but a Harvard degree is worth more than let's say Wellesley College on the job market, if we still have the elite and less-elite colleges.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Jun, 2008 06:04 am
@Vasska,
Quote:
All right, but a Harvard degree is worth more than let's say Wellesley College on the job market, if we still have the elite and less-elite colleges.
No, it's not. Colleges are ranked by US News and World Report according to big universities and small liberal arts colleges. Wellesley is ranked in the top 5 liberal arts colleges in the country. Harvard is ranked in the top 5 universities in the country. For undergraduate degrees their prestige is identical. These are the US News rankings for just the top tier of each category, i.e. out of literally thousands of institutions that they evaluate.

USNews.com: America's Best Colleges 2008: National Universities: Top Schools

USNews.com: America's Best Colleges 2008: Liberal Arts Colleges: Top Schools
Resha Caner
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Jun, 2008 03:17 pm
@Aedes,
This is starting to sound like "my dad is bigger than your dad".

I was more interested in the general state of college education than a specific school. I wonder if degrees are given that don't belong in a college setting, or if they ignore disciplines that should be included.

And I don't mean that someone hands out a degree in "Diversity Studies" or some other meaningless doublespeak. I mean, should things like engineering and veterinary medicine be colleges or trade schools?
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Jun, 2008 03:56 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
I wonder if degrees are given that don't belong in a college setting, or if they ignore disciplines that should be included.

I mean, should things like engineering and veterinary medicine be colleges or trade schools?
They already are professional schools. In order to get a doctoral degree in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, or to get an advanced degree in engineering, you MUST have completed an undergraduate college degree already. A college degree is an absolute prerequisite for admission to these schools.
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