US Education system: Pros and Cons
In today’s article, we’ll have a detailed discussion on the US education system, with focus on its PROs and CONs.
Despite the fact that the U.S. is one of the most criticized nations in the world, it is also one of the most appealing for people who want to live and work abroad. It is also one of the best places to get your higher education.
If you are wandering on what to consider when applying for universities in the US, here is an overview of the things that you may or may not like about the US education system.
A point to consider is that the information below might not reflect your position on studying in the US. To you, some of the positives may be negatives and vise versa. Here we are trying to review the information from international standpoint. Before we look into the pros and cons, lets have an overview of International students and US education system.
With a country, comprised of 50 states spreading on an entire continent, you can imagine the overwhelming range of courses and majors that are at your disposal, and, with English being the universal language, you can practically choose any area of study in any university. Another positive side is that, with such a big potential, there is a considerable chance for you to find a program, which best suits your interests.
In addition, as an international student in the US, you may find a program, which is looking for candidates from your region.
Many universities are searching for applicants, who are from developing or 3rd world countries and want to improve the quality of life and education in their respective communities.
Further to this, the universities also offer different funding options in order to encourage international applications. Thus filling their quota and raising their international and domestic recognition.
There is also a high regard for sport education and there are a lot of scholarships aimed at developing the athletes’ potential.
Flexibility of Education
The US education system is one of most diverse in the world. Students have unlimited choices on what they could study. Usually the U.S. universities offer you the possibility to experiment with different courses in the first two years of your education, as opposed to European universities, where you pick a specific subject with predefined curriculum and you follow it throughout your studies.
This diversification allows you to gain a different perspective and to avoid spending money on something that you don’t want to study. It also encourages you to broaden your knowledge on other fields so you could better develop your skills and personality. For instance, if you are studying to be a lawyer, you might want to cover courses for public speaking, reasoning and argumentation, literature, PR; instead of only covering courses that are directly connected to your subject.
Another interesting feature of U.S. Education is the focus on the development of an all-round state of mind. This means that your talents are recognized and nurtured by encouraging you to participate in extracurricular and outdoor activities, round tables, researches etc. In addition, U.S universities provide up to date facilities and advanced technologies, which are being developed onsite and can be used for work on government and private projects.
Academia and student life
Because of the high standard, many US universities attract the best and brightest of the scholars around the world. You will have the opportunity to meet and speak with researchers, who are on top in their respective field, which will give you access to knowledge and contacts that you otherwise will miss.
In addition, visiting professors will not only read lectures but will also expect from you to get in touch with them, so you could share your thoughts.
In this regard, academic life in the U.S may be more hands-on and interactive than the one in other countries. In class, students may be expected to express their opinion and the lecture itself is in open form. This creates an environment that tolerates discussions and dialog.
Usually the student life is situated mostly on the campus. The dormitories are also located there. Commonly the campus is outside of the city or in a designated area. There, one can also find the necessary utilities, restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs.
Since you will be spending most of your time on the campus, the student life is regarded more like a community, where you can interact with other students; engage in different activities, clubs and organizations.
We strongly recommend you to get involved in such activities, as they will help you with the cultural integration and will create opportunities for friendships, collaboration and academic ties.
With some exceptions, US universities are highly regarded around the globe and candidates with US Diplomas have better chance to be picked by Employers.
In a survey for top universities in the world from 2014, 40 out of 100 universities are located in the U.S, 7 of which are in the top 10.
Diversity as a negative
Each state follows a different curriculum of courses creating students of varying standards of education. A subject from one university may vary significantly from the same subject in another.
This creates gaps in the education and in the knowledge in general, which lead to certain universities becoming more favored by employers and thus raising the inequality in the workforce.
One of the major setbacks of US education is the cost. The fees are among the highest in the world, reaching up to $50 000 per year.
One paper shows the undergraduate tuition and living expenses in MIT:
Nine months’ tuition for 2014–2015 is $43,720. In addition, undergraduate room and board is approximately $13,224 depending on the student’s housing and dining arrangements. Books and personal expenses are about $2,790.
In addition, due to the immigration status of the international students, the possibilities for student loan are limited.
Holistic admission process
Compared to other countries, the admission process in the U.S is rather complicated.
Students need to have more than good academic record in order to qualify for the top universities. They need to do well both academically and socially, participating in activities that help the community, like volunteer work, science and art projects.
Participation in competitions and contests are also required.
Another side is the need to cover standardized tests. Most U.S. colleges require that you take one or more admission tests in order to be eligible for their programs.
Such tests as SAT, ACT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, TOEFL or IELTS, which are not always available in other countries or online.
Social benefits and work
Here is your greatest disadvantage of being an international student in the US. As such, most of the programs like social security, healthcare or other types of benefits offer, in almost all cases, limited accessibility.
In order to obtain a social security, you will need a social security number (SSN), which is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In order to qualify, you will need a letter from the International Social Service (ISS). In order to receive an ISS letter, you must bring a job offer letter to ISS, showing that you already have a job, regulated by the F-1 international student visa.
As for the healthcare, each university offers its own system, which may vary in standard or in the provided services. Smaller colleges may offer only basic coverage for general illness, where others may offer full package.
In any case, you are required to sign with the healthcare plan of your university. Once you can no longer use it, you can turn to the other side. However, it is good to know that the U.S does not provide socialized healthcare and the treatment is very expensive.
Work options are also limited and are regulated by the F-1 international student work visa. For more information visit here
So what is the conclusion?
In the end, despite the high tuition fees and the bureaucratic process, the US education offers diverse possibilities for personal, professional and academic growth, which are globally recognized.
The system praises individuality and encourages self-sustainability.
It attracts highly qualified personal, who relies on the communication with the students.
The student life, although not very diversified, offers the possibility of cultural integration where differences are welcomed and students live as a community.
Feel free to share all your experiences in the US, if you had a chance to study there!