What are university classes like in the United States? This is one of the most commonly asked questions by students and parents who are interested in learning more about studying at a U.S. university. Below we will answer this question so that you know what to expect from your university program and better plan for it.
First of all, the majority of university programs in the United States are considered holistic. This means that the programs combine a large variety of topics, in addition to your future major and area of study. So the academic program that you are planning to major in will most likely include required general education courses, better known as GE courses, that you (and all other students) must pass in order to receive your college degree.
General education courses cover subjects that are branches of humanities, social science, natural science, and writing. These courses are usually taken during your first and second years of college. Normally, your third and fourth years of college are dedicated to courses related to your specific degree (i.e. biology, journalism, accounting). Some students think that these GE classes are boring because it makes them feel like they are back in high school. But the truth is that taking GE courses has plenty of benefits.
- NEW POINTS OF VIEW. Learning more about astrological, biological, or literary topics can sound unnecessary if your degree does not include these subjects. Taking these courses, however, can surprise you by exposing you to new points of view, reinforcing what you already know, or even giving you ideas for multidisciplinary projects.
- ADAPTATION TO THE NEW WORKLOAD. By taking these general subjects, you can adapt to your new academic expectation. You can learn how American universities work, reflect on how to maximize your performance for harder classes, improve your vocabulary, and prepare for the future. Taking these GE courses can help you feel more confident and help you make the right decisions for your academic future.
- SELF-REALIZATION. Research has shown that 50% of first-year college students aren’t sure about what major they want to study. If you find yourself among this 50%, general education courses can help you decide what career you’re interested in. In other words, general education courses allow for self-reflection and discovery of what your true passion and interests may be. Also, if during your second year of college you decide to change your major, you won’t lose a year of studying. This means you may still be able to complete your degree in 4 years.
- NEW DISCOVERIES. Do you remember that Socrates, the Greek philosopher, talked about love and wisdom? You should keep in mind that a person loves what they know. And to get to love, understanding the unknown is necessary. You could enjoy topics on theater or astronomy more than you think, helping you discover new intellectual, cultural, and athletic interests.
- PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. General education topics offer a variety of course subjects, which allows you to not only choose classes on topics you like but also choose classes that can improve your personal skills. For example, you could take classes in digital photography, Japanese, Adobe InDesign, or public speaking. In summary, general education courses can be tools for your academic and personal growth.
- OVERCOMING CHALLENGES. General education courses are meant to be academic challenges that test your capabilities. You can overcome the challenge of these general education courses as long as you work hard and take advantage of the information given to you. You can learn to successfully give a presentation in French, explain the technical differences between jazz and blues, or remember the properties of star formation. These small pieces of knowledge will not only give you more confidence but also properly prepare you to meet the demands of your U.S. university.
As you can see, there are many arguments in favor of the importance of including general education courses in university programs in the United States. Try to keep in mind that you’re not going to be “repeating” high school courses but rather that you will be learning new skills, facing new challenges, and increasing your creativity.
If you are thinking of studying in the United States but don’t know where to start or still have lots of questions about the process, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today so that we can help you reach the United States. Register now to receive a free consultation!
Original Author: Sergio A. Poveda