Pupil Contributions, Clifton College

Pupil Contributions, Clifton College

Jason Weereawardena: 19/12/16

To some Americans, Canada is their 51st state and the UK their 52nd; each country is very much alike one another sharing a strong diplomatic bond that is unlikely to ever broken.Their education can be considered similar but has key differences in all parts of their system; however, this article will focus on the university systems.

Firstly "majors": unlike the British system where from the get go, you are studying a single subject which you declare at the application phase then work on for 3-4 years, in the American system you have far more flexibility; in their system for the first two years of university you don't study one singular subject but instead a wide variety of them to ensure you don't commit to a subject which you may have found easy at school but once the more in depth and complex version is taught to you at unis it becomes confusing, making you realise you should never have taken it in the first place. This system I think is much better than the British one as it gives you more options and a taste of different fields of study before you begin your major in the third year.

Secondly applications: In Britain we use UCAS, a simple piece of software which allows us to apply to 99% of all British universities, it reduces the time required at the start of your last year at school to apply to the universities you want and gives a single unbiased platform for all universities to check your qualifications and consider a placement. In the US however each university has a different application system and requirements, for example the University Of California replaces the personal statement with 4 personal insight questions you must answer. While it creates more work for the applicant to apply to these US unis, it does create a sort of uniqueness between each university that may be lost in the British system so this is a neutral point at best.

Lastly on the negative side I would perhaps point to finance: Universities in the US are extortionate (especially for international students) which may leave less economically fortunate hopefuls with debts that take years to pay off. The top and most competitive unis cost 10s of thousands in tuition a year (and that's not including extra costs for example textbooks, utilities, rent etc.) while in the UK for a British citizen the costs are definitely cheaper for a 3-4 year education.

In conclusion US universities are significantly more expensive than their UK alternative but many would benefit from the US education system and I would argue that for those that can afford it, money is a mute point as to many, education is priceless.