Education is a fundamental right that all individuals should benefit from. It provides the stepping stone for a person’s development and success and is a formative process throughout their lives. When it comes to higher education, the United States has become one of the most popular destinations in the world for further studies.
With the wealth of opportunities that the nation provides, from ‘The American Dream’ to the elite status of its universities and colleges, the United States is currently one of the best choices that an international student can consider for their higher education.
As is the case, the education system in the United States, while being highly prestigious and diverse, is fairly different from the systems in other countries. This means there are potential advantages as well as disadvantages which should be properly considered by any prospective student. In this article, we will describe the main pros and cons that entail the American education system.
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Advantages of the American Education System
1. Diversity & Inclusion
The number of international students in the American Education System has increased dramatically over the years. ]
Currently, more than 32% of the student population at the university and college level are international students. This creates a diverse and varied environment with a mix of cultures. For this reason, universities search and encourage applicants from foreign countries to apply in order to further diversify the community.
Aside from the diversity of the student community, there is an overwhelming range of courses and degrees that can be chosen for further study.
2. Global Recognition
It comes as no surprise to anyone that the prestige and academic excellence offered by American education is almost unparalleled. With a few exceptions, the majority of colleges and universities in the United States are among the most highly ranked in the world and have a reputation for their rigorous academics and high-quality student experience. In a recent survey about top universities in the world, 42 of the top 100 universities in the world are located in the United States.
3. The flexibility of academic education
With English as the primary language, practically any area of study can be chosen by any student according to their interests, thereby improving the flexibility. Students have access to an unlimited number of choices for their studies, which is typical to the majority of higher education institutions
During the first two years, there is the possibility of experimenting and getting a taste of different courses (as opposed to the universities in Europe which require you to study courses relevant to your prospective degree).
This is one of the main reasons as to why university education in the United States is especially valued. The diversification of the academic degree enables students to gain a well-rounded perspective and not waste any expenses (financial or time-related) by studying what they do not like. This helps in the long-term when it comes to employment as a broad base of knowledge and a developed personality can go a long way, as seen by employers.
4. The enriching student experience
The overall collegiate experience has been described as highly interactive and practical. As the universities attract the best across the world into its campuses, networking and meeting high-profile individuals is a common experience. Learning involves students actively engaging with these networks and having an open discussion and dialogue.
As a means of developing an all-around state of mind, participation in extra-curricular activities is also encouraged. US universities provide hundreds of student organizations and societies for this reason so that students can make active use of their further talents.
In addition, the campus forms the focal point of student life. The campus includes the main facilities such as the dormitories, shops and stores, bars, cafes, clubs and other places essential to students, thereby improving the convenience and ease.
Disadvantages of the American Education System
1. Cost of Tuition
The high standards of academic excellence unfortunately come with a price tag. The tuition fees offered by the majority of the universities in the United States happen to be among the highest in the world, often going upwards of $45-50,000 per year (depending on the course or degree). While scholarships and loans are a definite possibility, these cannot be guaranteed due to the immigration status of international students.
2. Diversity in teaching
Due to the high diversity in courses in the education system of United States, each of the 50 states can offer a substantially different curriculum of the same field of study. This has the possibility of creating discrepancies and teaching gaps as the content will differ from one university to the other. This means that employers could prefer one university’s qualification to another.
3. Admission requirements
As expected, applying to a university or college in the United States is definitely not an easy task. While academics are considered strongly, universities look for well-rounded individuals who are proficient in extra-curricular activities as well. So straight A grades alone are not sufficient if that is the only thing an applicant has to offer!
Standardized tests are another integral part of the admissions requirements, the most common of which is the rigorous SATs.
Additionally, international students should be able to demonstrate their English proficiency by going through the TOEFL or IELTS exam. Other exams that may be required depending on the course include the GRE, ACT, MCAT and LSAT exams.
4. Social benefits during the period of study
An unfortunate disadvantage of the education system for international students is the limited accessibility (or even lack of access in certain situations) to social benefits. These can include social security and healthcare. The process by which these can be accessed is fairly complex and will require heavy paperwork and time investment.
5. Employment opportunities and Work Benefits
Alternatively, work options and opportunities for employment after graduation are another complex factors that can place international students at a disadvantage. Due to the immigration restrictions, getting the opportunity to find work can be a bit difficult.
However, this does not mean that the process is impossible. Post-graduation opportunities are available with proper guidance and research. Options include the F-1 or M-1 type visa application.
In order to gain further information in this regard, it would be advised to contact the International Office of a particular university for proper advice.
I hope that this article on the pros and cons of the American Education System was helpful. If you are interested, visit the USA Scholarships Page!