My university in England is different compared my US university. Really different.
Compared with my experience in the US, my education in England has been a lot easier for me in some degrees. In the US, college feels like one long period of stress. They push you to your breaking point with assignments and exams, some of which might even be a little unnecessary.
In England, education is more about individual learning and growth. It’s on you to do the work. If you don’t want to do the reading – fine. If you don’t want to come to class – fine. There’s no babysitting here. You might only get two or three big assignments that determine your entire grade for a year long course. That means, you’ve got to be on top of it.
In US, we tend to have more factors in our final grade. You might have three essays in four-month long course plus a percentage of your grade is participation, attendance, homework, quizzes, etc.
I think that’s the real difference between UK and US universities. In the US, you usually get chances to right a mistake (failed exam, bad paper, etc). Here in the UK, you might only get two chances in a year long period, so you better take them seriously.
And to be completely honest, I’ve been enjoying how much less stressful the English system is in comparison to the US. Even though I am in senior level courses here, I only have a one hour lecture and seminar for each of my four classes once a week. In the US, I usually have 2.5+ hours of class time for each of my five classes. 8 hours here versus ~14 hours at home (plus a part-time job).
Also in my UK university, they put all the course readings as scanned copies in the syllabus. That means, you don’t have to physically have any of the books but if you wanted to, they have full sets on seven-day loan at the library. I was floored when I found this out. They definitely do not put course books in the school library at home.
I spend $100+ on books every semester at home, and I didn’t have to spend a penny here. This needs to be implemented in the US…like now.
But, even though I had less class-time, I learned a lot while I was here. All my professors here are really passionate about their subject and, you can tell they take preparing for their lectures seriously.
Still, after three months I can’t get over the fact that English students refer to professors by their first name. I tried it once – couldn’t do it. It felt like calling my mom by her first name. Couldn’t do it.
5 days until I return to the US.