The major differences between unis in Australia and America

March 30, 2017
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Admit it – you were a little disappointed when you turned up to uni in your first year and it wasn’t just like the crazy party scenes from American college movies. And the differences don’t just stop at the fact it’s called “college” over there. You might wish you were living it up at a college in the States, but just remember, the grass is always greener. After all, they have Trump to deal with. There’s pros and cons for both, but if you’re considering exchange, overall you’re in for a pretty different experience.

The classes

UNSW student Sophie Grosset, who studied at the University of Maryland, found that both education systems worked very differently.

“There was a lot of pop quizzes and a lot of opportunities for extra credits. So you can choose to do additional assignments if your marks for the pre-set assignments weren't great.

“I achieved 120 out of 100 (so 120%) for a subject because I received extra credit points. So the marking is way more fluid there than in Aus.”

The class structure also differs; the typical structure for Australian subjects is a lecture and a tutorial per week, lasting for one to two hours. In the US, seminars combine both styles and can be up to three hours, or you’ll have several sessions in a week.

The living quarters

While many Australians choose a uni based on how close it is to home, US students will often travel intestate for the uni of their choice. This means moving out of home at the age of 18 for the vast majority of students, whereas many Australians still live at home throughout the entirety of their uni degrees. For those who do move out in Aus, it’s not all that common to live on campus. The more common student living sitch in Aus is living in share houses off campus.

Most Aussie students also probably wouldn’t be able to comprehend the fact that for some American college students, living on campus also means living in a sorority or fraternity house.

“You have to pay a lot to be there,” says Sophie. “My friend was paying $800 a semester on top of normal accommodation costs.”

The idea of hazing also sounds very un-Australian, as does the whole system of pledges and rules. The amount of pride in your frat/sorority is almost as insane as the intense school spirit, which you defs don’t see in Aus.

The expenses

You’ve probs heard the crazy difference in fees for studying in Australia and the US – the average American degree costs $33,215 annually, which is more likely to be the cost of a three-year degree in Australia. But when it comes to other expenses, the US is likely to be significantly cheaper.

Something foreign to most Australians, many colleges include meal plans as part of the package (which might explain the exxy degrees). Instead of having to scour campus for the cheapest sushi, it’s not uncommon for most students to hang out in dining halls, when all of their meals are on offer.

Sophie notes that many of the local students she met on exchange didn’t work part-time jobs either, something that’s pretty unrealistic for most students in Aus who are living out of home.

The lifestyle

It makes sense that the lifestyle will differ wherever you go – you’re going to get a totally different experience whether you study in Sydney vs Melbourne vs Perth etc. But wherever you are in Aus, you’ll probably be in for a laidback environment, and if you’re lucky, close enough to the coast to enjoy the perks of beach life and awesome weather.

In the US, it definitely depends on where you choose to study. Your lifestyle is going to be totally different between places like New York, California or South Carolina. Some students live in college towns, which means that there’s more students living there than anyone else, and everything from food to bars to shopping centres are totally catered to students.

While many campuses are considered “dry campuses”, you can usually find dive bars off-campus that cater to students with cheap drinks. In Australia, you don’t even need to leave uni to get a drink, with most having uni bars on campus. Despite the fact that Aussies like to drink, Sophie found that there was way more partying and drinking that happens in the US. Heading to the US to study? Get ready for the keg stands and red cups fam.

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