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Studying in the US vs the UK

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If you’re a student in the United Kingdom, and you’ve ever considered studying abroad in the United States, it’s important to consider that there are many variations between the systems of education. Here are a few of the key differences that should be considered before making the decision to study overseas.

Time in school

In the United States, colleges are referred to as “4-year universities” for a reason. While the length of study varies depending on what choices a student makes (e.g. transferring, changing majors, taking AP courses in high school, workload), most students are expected to finish their undergraduate degree in about four years. If a student chooses to pursue further education, such as a master’s degree, they will be in school for another two years at the minimum. Some degrees can even add four or more years of education after the undergraduate degree has been obtained.

In the United Kingdom, time spent in school is compressed significantly. General education and elective courses are curtailed, if not entirely omitted from studies. As a result, students obtain their degrees in about three years. Also, graduate degrees are not always necessary to successfully practice in some fields, as qualifications can be obtained within the three-year undergraduate period.

Grades and coursework

While students in the United Kingdom are lucky enough to find themselves in school for a shorter period of time, they are often under much stricter scrutiny. On the surface, it may seem as if it’s easier to earn an “A” in the UK, as it is only necessary to obtain 65 percent or higher (in the United States, a 90 percent or higher is required). Although a lower percentage is required to get an “A” in the UK, only a few students in any given class will earn the grade, as grade inflation is not common.

How students are educated is also much different. In the US, students tend to receive more guidance, whereas students in the UK are expected to be more regulating. A course in the United States will meet for three or four hours a week, but a class in the United Kingdom will only meet for one to two hours. Students are expected to spend the additional time reading and doing work on their own.

Campus life

For better or for worse, American universities have a certain stigma surrounding them. Many may call to mind scenes from National Lampoon’s Animal House, where toga parties and binge drinking are the norm. While these hyperbolic narratives don’t ring true in the majority of cases, they aren’t entirely fictitious. Fraternities and sororities, with all of their partying and pledging, are not something you are likely to encounter anywhere else in the world. In fact, many students who travel to the United States are likely to testify that that have never encountered anything like Greek Life.

If you do decide to study abroad in the US, being prepared by having holiday travel insurance is in your best interest. For more information on travel insurance plans, get in touch with Insurance Services of America by calling (800) 647-4589.

Categories: Blog