The system of higher education in the United States differs in many important ways from the educational systems of other countries.
2. A number of institutions in the United States have 2 sessions but a few others like Ohio University operates the quarter system which is divided into 3 sessions of ten weeks each and 2 additional sessions of 5 weeks each during the summer. Some other universities that run the semester system also have summer sessions during which classes are optional.
3. Grades are usually compiled at the end of each quarter and sent via e-mail to each student. Hard copies could also be sent to mail boxes or obtained by request.
4. Students are responsible for meeting the requirements of the university and their major departments. Carefully study documents that describe the requirements in detail. You need to plan ahead so that courses are registered for in the appropriate quarter. Usually students are assigned academic advisors who are responsible for guiding you in course selection. Apart from your course director some institutions will allow you to choose an advisor that has similar interest to yours as academic advisor.
5. Professors in the US use a number of different teaching methods. There may be lecture format, where students are expected to take notes and later sit for an exam. Other professors may require that students read wide beyond suggested reading materials and discuss in class. Students may also be asked to carry out solo or group projects. Students may be asked to write research papers or give oral or written reports. Each professor determines the format of each course.
6. Tests are given more frequently in US institutions. Format and number of test will be communicated to students during the first class meeting during which a syllabus will be given to students. There may be weekly quizzes (short exams), midterm and a final exam. Exams may be essay, multiple choice, short answer format or a combination of all these styles. Exams could be sit-in or take home.
7. Grading is computed by adding up all the graded work. Students attendance and participation is usually allotted a certain percentage in the total marks. Cheating or plagiarism may affect grades and could earn the student caught an expulsion.
8. Student and teachers usually treat each other informally. Students are allowed to call professors by their first names but that does not mean you are compelled to follow this tradition if your culture approves otherwise. Informal dressing as well as permission of drinks and snacks in classrooms during lecture are marks of informality. Though you may leave early or arrive late this may count against you where the teacher takes attendance, collects assignment at beginning of class or make important announcement just before class ends. US students are usually very competitive and therefore less helpful but professors are always willing to help you get by. For instance you may be allowed to submit a draft earlier to enable a professor look through and give you direction on your paper. Letting a teacher know that you are contending with other stressful non academic issues could earn you a later deadline than others. It is not unusual not to know who gets what grade as professors are not permitted to be open about grades.
Suggestions that will help you adjust to the US educational system:
1. Make sure you understand the requirements. If you don’t, make out time to see your teacher during his/her office hours. Ignorance of what is required in your course or homework is not tenable. Make every effort to understand.
2. Be prepared to start work on first day of school and don’t look forward to professors not showing up.
3. Schedule your time wisely and complete home works on deadline
4. Attend class regularly. Missing more than two classes during the class term may earn you a mark down
5. Talk to the professor when you realize you are lagging behind. Waiting till later may earn you a low grade or fail grade even if you end up dropping the class.
6. Do not hold back from asking questions. Professors are in business to guide you. Meet with your academic adviser regularly to discuss whatever concern you have about your classes and your career goals.
7. Class participation is essential. Tactfully disagree with the opinion of others including the professors’ and note that criticism of your opinion does not mean criticism of your person.
9. Your major undoing may be an inability to use the library or computer system. Learn as soon as possible.
10. Remember that the first quarter will be the most difficult as you have to adjust to the trend, culture and weather especially if you arrive in the winter.
A = 4.00 C = 2.00 A- = 3.67 C- =1.67 B+ = 3.33 D+ = 1.33
B = 3.00 D = 1.00 B- = 2.67 D- = 0.67 C+ = 2.33 F = 0.00
Minimum Grade Point Average
Undergraduate Students: 2.0 Graduate Student: 3.0
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