There are similarities in studying at university in the USA and UK, but here are my top four insights into how they are different and why!
Campus life is part of the college experience, but I wouldn’t say as much as the States. There is still on-campus housing, and for undergraduates, that’s a huge part of university life, but I think social life revolves more around student societies and local communities.
Campus life is a significant part of the college experience, with a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities, sports, and a wide range of student organizations. On-campus housing is pretty common and at least on my campus, everything I needed was right there and I didn’t often have to leave my campus.
Duration and Structure of Programs
Undergraduate programs typically last three years, and students generally focus on their chosen major from the beginning. All my courses and lectures are directly focus on my degree and are predetermined/set. Master's programs are often one year in duration, with a strong focus on the chosen field of study, although mine is a two-year course.
Undergraduate programs typically last four years, and students often complete a broad range of general education courses before declaring a major. I took so many electives that weren’t related to my major. Master's programs typically last two or three years, and there may be a broader range of coursework, including general education requirements.
Cost of Education
Tuition fees tend to be lower, and the duration of programs is shorter, leading to lower overall costs. For me, it was cheaper to study as an international student in England than it was to attend some universities in the States for my degree.
Tuition fees can be higher, and the longer duration of programs can result in higher overall costs. Financial aid, scholarships, and loans are common to help students.
Assessment Methods and Grading System
Assessment is often based on a few major exams or coursework throughout the academic year, with an emphasis on independent study. Grading is often based on a numerical scale, and a first-class degree is considered the highest achievement. On most of my assessments, I receive marks in the high 60s range. This was an adjustment for me as this is considered a good grade in England, whereas in the States, this would be ‘D’ work and I would be disappointed to get that and likely not pass my classes.
Assessment may include a combination of exams, quizzes, essays, group projects, and class participation, with continuous evaluation throughout the semester. Grading is typically on a letter scale (A, B, C, D, and F), and Grade Point Average (GPA) is commonly used. High GPAs are often important for graduate school admissions and employment. In my opinion, the States focuses more on tests and smaller and more frequent graded assessments than in England.
I am grateful for all of my past and present university experiences. I hope to shed some light for prospective international students so that studying in a different country may feel manageable because it is incredibly worthwhile.