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US vs. British Educational System. Which is Better?

Because I have been studying in the US for a couple years now, I’m used to the rhythm and pace back at Drexel. I already have an overall idea of how professors work, how they assign homework, how the grade papers, what is overall expected of me inside and outside of the classroom, among other aspects of school.

Since my arrival at FIE (Foundation of International Education) in London, we were told how the school system in the UK differs from the US. This blog post will be dedicated to those differences (general differences), so keep reading to learn more about how the British system is distinctive from the American system!

First dissimilarity is when tests are taken. In the British system, tests are given at the end of each school year; so basically, finals week is crazy since every test and assignment must be presented in that same time period. Compared to the US, this would be odd, as tests and assignments take place throughout the whole course, obviously with a finals week, but it’s not as overloaded as it would be if everything was due that last week.

Secondly, professors in the UK make an emphasis on the student showing/proving authority and mastery over a topic. We were told on the first day at orientation that professors appreciate when students already know about the topic. In the US, it is kind of similar, depending on your professor. However, faculty expect student engagement with a topic, and it is more participation heavy, asking questions, interacting, etc.

Last difference between the two systems is declaring your major/concentration. In the US, we generally have an idea of the direction we want to go to, and if someone doesn’t, most–if not all– universities have an exploratory program for the people who haven’t made up their mind, or simply don’t know what they want to do in the future. This way they can dip their toes in different subjects and find out what they enjoy.

This was completely different to the British system, since students are required to declare a concentration really early on, which defines their coursework. It is also not common to switch majors like it is in the US, since that would mean having to start completely from zero all over again. While in the US, a large number of students switch their majors at least once throughout their college career. Not only is this common, but sometimes even encouraged by advisors to find what the student is passionate and interested about.

With all that being said, FIE works on kind of a hybrid style, and I’ve been discovering new differences each day, which keeps me on my feet. I can’t wait to see what FIE will bring to the table these next couple weeks!

A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:

The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.

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