Wednesday, October 22, 2008

University in the US

I keep getting questions about what university is like in the US. It is really hard to explain. I think the biggest difference is the flexibility of the US school system.

Students can go to school either part-time or full-time. Your class schedule is not preset. When you start a program, you are given a list of classes that you must complete in order to graduate. It is your responsibility to work with your adviser and select classes each semester that bring you closer to your degree. If you don't take the right classes it can delay your graduation.

This also means that if you need to work long hours in order to pay for school you can take fewer classes or if you are lucky enough to be able to just go to school you can take more.

I think that students in the US are also required to do more self-learning than here, but that is just and impression so far. We are required to do a lot of studying on our own and sometimes to learn beyond what is presented in the book or in lecture. For me this meant studying long hours, similar to what I see students doing here in China. It is not the same for all students in the US. Everyone is different and takes things at a different rate.

Before applying to medical school in the US, you need to have completed certain classes and take a test called the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT's) that covers Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biology and Physics. Most students have a 4 year degree called a Bachelor's Degree before applying.

While I was in school, I had to work in order to pay for my everyday living expenses and my school tuition. I also had to take out loans to pay for school. My parents helped as much as they could, but school is very expensive in the US.

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