UK OR USA
Universities and Colleges are
reputedly the hallowed halls of intellectual
development, the schools of maturation from where the
leaders of our world emerge to set the world ablaze
with the fruits of intellectualism. However, the
produce all vary in flavors according the nature of
the curriculum prescribed. The most marked
divergence of tastes lie within institutions separated
by oceans, and continents. Although the UK and USA
share an Anglo-Saxon culture,
disparities are marked within ideals of their
respective education systems, further being indicative
of their particular cultures.
In the USA, no matter if one is
enrolled in a state school or a private liberal arts
college, it is expected that students will study
academic subjects outside their intended field of
study. The premise of which is to cultivate a rounded
individual, comfortably conversant with all mediums of
academic literature, whether of artistic or scientific
character. Hence on American campuses you will
discover scenarios where historians may be taking
courses in astrophysics.
Needless to say such a scenario
would not engender smiles on the faces of their
British counterparts, who have
journeyed through system of education where from an
early age specialization has been expected. Thus by
the time these students commence their undergraduate
training they are only expected to study within their
chosen area of study. (This happens to less of a
degree in Scottish universities, where students are
encouraged to explore topics beyond their major,
although in reality students rarely venture beyond
their chosen faculty.
These structural differences
influence changes within the deliverance of
classes. Due to obligation of students to study
outside their fields of study the US prescribes a
broader, but less in depth of an enquiry of study.
Whereas, breadth is shunned in favor of more narrowly
focused, but deeper lines of study within British
establishments. Each system has its strengths and
weaknesses. Critics of British education would point
towards the enforced learning of unnecessary
information, whereas defenders of the British
universities may counter by accusations of?
dumping down? in college classes.
My personal perception, based from studying in two
small universities/colleges in the UK and the US, that
aside from a divergence between
curriculum's, there is a marked difference of ethos
between UK and USA higher education institutions.
On American campuses, work is
constantly requested from students on a daily basis.
In contrast the British university calendar invites
extra-intensive work in patches, separated by periods
of lulls, thus creating large tracts of downtime
between assignments. It this downtime that
characterizes the British university lifestyle where
social life is the veritable engine of UK university
life, pushing academia into the passenger seat. In
contrast academia takes the fore in America colleges,
largely due to structured system in American colleges
brought by an emphasis upon teaching. Work is
definitely more intensive in American colleges, which
is to be expected given that American students pay
significantly more than their British counterparts,
and hence American students tend to be more motivated
than their apathetic British counterparts.
So concluding with my personal
endnote of bias, I would have to admit that American
Colleges invite more of a rigorous, dynamic
intellectually arousing ethos, though at the expense
of cultivating an active social scene.
The lessons derived within the UK
university establishment arise from outside the
classroom within the pubs and clubs, where social
development rather than intellectual development takes
preponderance. Choose your