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Things I want to know about the US (but was afraid to ask!)

 
 
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:04 am
This is a pretty random topic. As a Brit who's never visited the US, nearly all my knowledge of the country comes from TV & films (sorry, movies).

This obviously has given me a pretty distorted and confused view of my trans-Atlantic cousins, and there's a whole load of stuff I'd like made clear, if at all possible.

Rather than post a load of questions all at once, I'll put in a few at a time for clarity and ease of reading.

Here goes:

1) It seems like kids study the whole range of academic subjects at (high?)school. This makes sense. But it also seems as if they only do exams (SATs?) in Math(s) and English. What happens to the rest? Are they not examined? Are students admitted to eg. medical college without any consideration of their perfomance in Biology or Chemistry, for example?

2) Some students can get places at university purely on the basis of being good at sport, no matter how academically inclined they may be. How can this be right? Is it because the college sports are given equal weighting to the 'proper' degree courses?

3) Poor people can only get medical treatment at 'charity' hospitals.
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:13 am
I can answer the questions about the SATs. These tests are only one part of the admissions process. Universities also look at academic performance in high school - their grades, their ratings compared to other students (1st in their class), activities involved during school, many also require preparing an essay, interviews at the university/college. The SATs are a small portion of what you need to gain admission into a university or college.

As far as medical school. Typically a student finishes his/her four year degree beyond high school before being accepted to medical school. I do not know the specifics of acceptance to medical school, but I would assume the are tested in the fields of Biology, etc. I do know that the majority of college students wishing to obtain a higher degree than a Bachelor (four year program) need to take a further test (GRE) that is more specific to their area of study.
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L R R Hood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:15 am
First I want to say that I love your picture there! That's an Orb CD cover, right?

1) I remember taking those SAT's, and there were sections for writing, reading comprehension, science and math. There are other standardised tests that are more specific and others that are more general. I remember in highschool we didn't have to take all of the math and science that was offered, but we had to take English every year. There were foreighn language classes, history, economics, music, band, study hall (waste of time), art, home ec... and the mechanic, auto body, cosmotology, typing, computers, electronics, wood shop, agriculture... for those who wanted to do those for a living.

2) Yes people are given scholarships based on their abilities in a sport, but I think they have to have a certain grade average (which is low to begin with, and at my highschool they were sometimes just given decent grades for the sake of the school's ball team) They still have to keep a certain grade average in college, but again... there is all kinds of ways to get around learning. I feel sorry for those guys.

Not all schools are that way though, but the ones I went to were.

3) Medical insurance is a very complicated subject, and there are free clinics for those who fit the income criteria. I was a poor college student, and I made too much to be able to go to those clinics, so I'm thinking you may need to be on welfare to be able to go there. Not completely sure, though.

Hope that helps. And I hope you get more than just my answers there.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:20 am
SAT's are given a lot of weight, though -- I slacked off towards the end of high school (skipping a lot of classes, getting deafer by the minute, not getting any services), and my grades were NOT good. But I totally aced my SAT's (forget the score), and was told specifically that that was why I got into the colleges I wanted to get into.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:23 am
Students are not simply admitted to University without reference to their academic potential when it is a question of athletic prowess--they are recruited. Baseball has a "farm club" system, which are minor league teams to which a new recruit is sent, or to which an applicant applies, and at which the new recruit or applicant gets experience, and the opportunity to display (it is hoped) the talent necessary to move up the the major leagues. In short, there is a professional career path open to them outside the university system (college baseball stars still go on to professional sports careers, but it does not represent the money involved in other sports). But there is no such system for either football or basketball. Therefore, football and basketball represent big money for the universities in question. Literally tens of millions of dollars are on the line for any university with a major football or basketball program.

Acutally, "poor people" can get medical care at any facility which accepts state or federal money of any kind. As medicare, the medical insurance program for recipients of social security retirement income, is a lucrative type of practice, most clinics and hospitals would therefore be require to provide medical care to holders of medicaid insurance (medicaid is given mostly to "ADC" clients--aid to dependent children). In fact, a large problem with the medical care delivery system in the United States these days arises from the use of emergency rooms as clinics by medicaid eligible families. Rather than going to the trouble of finding an outpatient clinic which provides services to medicaid recipients, and establishing a routine of medical care maintenance, recipients of medicaid frequently wait until a family member is in distress, and then go to the nearest emergency room. The emergency room of almost any hospital will provide the needed care, and then refer the patient and the family to a local practitioner. Saddly, they will usually ignore the referral, and show up at the emergency room on the next occasions upon which immediate care is needed.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:24 am
Re: Things I want to know about the US (but was afraid to as
Grand Duke wrote:
1) It seems like kids study the whole range of academic subjects at (high?)school. This makes sense. But it also seems as if they only do exams (SATs?) in Math(s) and English. What happens to the rest? Are they not examined? Are students admitted to eg. medical college without any consideration of their perfomance in Biology or Chemistry, for example?


yeha, it's a bit weird. There are two major tests (the SAT and ACT) that schools will look at for accepting students. Both focus on English/grammar/reading and Mathmatics. But each state has it's own requirements for what you have to take in high school to graduate and you have to have a high school diploma to go on into college. In that aspect the other classes are important enougyh that you have to pass them. The colleges are also going to look at your transcripts from high school so they'll know what clases you took and how well you did in them.
So the other classes get looked at but the review is more subjective.

To get into Medical college you'd have to complete 4 years of general college as a "pre-med" student and than get selected for medical school. In that case your college workload is probably more important than what you had taken in high school.

Quote:
2) Some students can get places at university purely on the basis of being good at sport, no matter how academically inclined they may be. How can this be right? Is it because the college sports are given equal weighting to the 'proper' degree courses?


In theory they still have to meet the academic qualifications. in reality the almighty $$ kicks in and the schools bend the admission rules and get them in anyway.

Quote:
2) Poor people can only get medical treatment at 'charity' hospitals.


Anyone can, in theory, get emergency treatment at any hospital. All hospitals are required by law to care for anyone that comes in the door in a medical emergency - whether they can pay or not.

For routine care there are several government programs that either provide health care directly (i.e. clinics) or provide some means of insurance. There are also private hospitals that do offer some charitable work. Access to any of these depends on a host of variables and there are people that fall though and end up without routine care. Many of them qualify for government programs but for whatever reasons, don't get it.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:26 am
Wow. Lots of people all typing up responses at the same time! Razz
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:26 am
Re: Things I want to know about the US (but was afraid to as
fishin' wrote:
All hospitals are required by law to care for anyone that comes in the door in a medical emergency - whether they can pay or not.


This is good to know fishin'. I'm going right now to get my bullet removed.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:28 am
Re: Things I want to know about the US (but was afraid to as
Craven de Kere wrote:
fishin' wrote:
All hospitals are required by law to care for anyone that comes in the door in a medical emergency - whether they can pay or not.


This is good to know fishin'. I'm going right now to get my bullet removed.


Feh, That's only a scratch!
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:35 am
It's merely a flesh wound. You should see what happens when I aim.
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Relative
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:39 am
OK, another question:

How many college students (in %) receive some kind of full scholarship (have a free college), in contrast to those that must pay themselves? A rough estimate?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:45 am
I dunno, althoug i would suspect a brief search of the web would yield a response. I would guess that most students (without knowing it for a certainty) receive some amount of financial assistance, of which the Pell Grants are a notable sources. Maybe i can find something for you.
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Grand Duke
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:47 am
Wow! Many thanks to all here. I hate being ignorant! The general consensus seems to be that the universities look at a whole range of criteria, which varies depending on where you live, where you want to study, and what course you are doing. Like I said, I knew I was wrong! Everyone here does 6-10 compulsory 'GCSE' exams at 16, many do 2-4 'A-Level' exams at 18, then off to Uni for 3-4 years if they're doing a batchelor's degree.

The medical thing seems a bit harsh though. I had the impression that they checked you had insurance before giving any treatment, but I'm pleased I was wrong! Anyone living in the UK can (and most do) get treatment at a National Health Service GP/dentist/hospital (state funded). That even includes foreigners! There is an established private health sector, with much shorter waiting lists (but at a large cost, obviously).

I'm coming back tomorrow with some more questions.

Thanks again, ta-ta for now...
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:48 am
This is the National Education Association's page on college scholarships:

clickity-click[/color]
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 12:32 pm
Admissions tests are required for the applicants to medical and law schools.
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Grand Duke
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 12:38 pm
L.R.R.Hood wrote:
...That's an Orb CD cover, right?


Yup - "Live93". Bonus marks to the fan of early 90's UK ambient house!

I couldn't resist getting back to ask some more questions, such was the quality and quantity of the replies.

4) It's very easy to buy a gun in the US, and a scary amount of people have one in their house.

5) The police have to halt their pursuit of a criminal when it crosses the county/state line, leaving the perps to escape.

6) There is no equivalent in American English to the British expression 'taking the piss'
- making fun of someone's deficiencies, appearance etc. (in either a malicious or friendly way, depending on who you're doing it to).
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Grand Duke
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 12:40 pm
ossobuco wrote:
Admissions tests are required for the applicants to medical and law schools.


Are these done after high school, or after an under-graduate batchelor's degree in something else?
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Relative
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 12:55 pm
Thanks.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 01:05 pm
Grand Duke wrote:
4) It's very easy to buy a gun in the US, and a scary amount of people have one in their house.


You'd have to quantify "easy". Compared to most of Europe, yeah, it is. Compared to Pakistan it's pretty hard.

Quote:
5) The police have to halt their pursuit of a criminal when it crosses the county/state line, leaving the perps to escape.


Police Depts. arrange "mutal assistance" agreements. The idea that they have to stop at the county/state line comes from some older (i.e. 1930s/1940s) movies I think. There are some legal issues with jurisdiction over specific issues but for the most part this sort of thing was resolved long ago.

Quote:
6) There is no equivalent in American English to the British expression 'taking the piss' - making fun of someone's deficiencies, appearance etc. (in either a malicious or friendly way, depending on who you're doing it to).


Hmmm.. I think there are probably a few phrases that mean about the same thing. When I was a teen we used to call that "goofing on" someone. If you were "goofing on Charlie" it meant you were picking on Charlie for any number of reasons which could include appearance. Goofing on someone could also be either malicious or friendly depending on the situation.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 01:08 pm
Grand Duke -- I don't think anyone mentioned that there are a variety of optional tests for USA high school students to take that will show their ability in specific subjects. They are usually taken in conjunction with the SATs. A student who wants to attend a highly competitive school may also offer his/her scores in A.P. tests to look more interesting to that school. Frequently these courses will allow the student to "test out" of introductory classes while getting credit for the work. This is the list of various Advanced Placement tests currently available.

Art History
Biology
Calculus AB
Calculus BC
Chemistry
Computer Science A
Computer Science AB
Macroeconomics
Microeconomics
English Language
English Literature
Environmental Science
European History
French Language
French Literature
German Language Comparative Gov't & Politics
U.S. Gov't & Politics
Human Geography
Latin Literature
Latin: Vergil
Music Theory
Physics B
Physics C
Psychology
Spanish Language
Spanish Literature
Statistics
Studio Art
U.S. History
World History


The CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) also tests for subjects beyond the basic SATs.

http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/clep/about.html

Typical timeline for a student in the US:
K-12th grade resulting in a High School diploma at age 18
4 years at a college - Bachelor of Arts or Sciences
1-2 years -- Master of Arts or Sciences
2 years -- PhD in a specific field (Literature, Biology, etc.)
or 3 years -- LLD (law)
or 4 years -- MD medical, DDS or DMD (dental)


Other common scenarios... GED (General Education Diploma) instead of a standard H.S. diploma which is awarded after the student passes a comprehensive test.

Running Start -- Student's last two years of High School & first two years of college are taken simultaneously, with dual credit so that the student receives an AA (Associate of Arts) degree from a community college + H.S. Diploma. The student may then continue his/her education at a 4-year institution, resulting in a BA or BS, etc. as above.

There are also many career-specific training programs through technical institutions, community colleges, vocational colleges and apprenticeships. Sometimes a H.S. student will begin to this training while continuing to attend H.S. part-time for the last two years.

Relative asked how many receive scholarships. I'd estimate (based on my five years of volunteer work with my school district's scholarship program) that a minimum of 50% receive some assistance, but frequently that may be a very small percentage of the real costs. I estimate that a "full-ride" or "toothbrush" scholarship is given to less than 10% and most of those are for sports. An additional 5-10% receive substantial assistance through military programs like ROTC (Reserve Office Training Corps).
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