Why an American college, instead of a Chinese one? (Part I)

In one of my English classes in China
In one of my English classes in China

When I led tours for Admission, a lot of prospective students and their parents always asked me why I chose an American college over a Chinese one. It was hard to explain such a broad question during my one-hour tour, so I told them that I preferred the small class size here and the intensive interaction with professors and other people. Since China has sent so many students to study in the United States, however, I believe it is necessary for me to do a more detailed analysis on the differences between the education in China and the U.S., according to my experience.

The first difference that I have noticed between American and Chinese education is that they focus on different things. Chinese educators require students to be extremely rigorous, while American education encourages students to have an open and free mind. Chinese students are always recognized as those who can get the highest scores in math every time.

This is due to the fact that Chinese students have to remember a lot of math formulas and do tons of math problems from the time they are very young. The first thing that American parents teach a kid might be different kinds of colors, but Chinese parents would first teach their babies how to do addition and multiplication tables. Also, Chinese students have a lot of restrictions; for example, they cannot bring a calculator to any exam, even for chemistry. Therefore, they must be precise and rigorous enough to do well in those complicated calculations.

However, in an American school, like Hanover College, the professors mainly focus on students’ understanding and application of a concept, instead of some potentially unnecessary precisions. This saves a lot of time and helps students to think deeply and freely.

Trip in Chicago...studying in the States gives me more opportunities to explore the world
Trip in Chicago: studying in the States gives me more opportunities to explore the world

Secondly, the forms of the assignments in China and U.S. are also completely different. In China, most of the assignments that students work on are either essays or textbook problems, and students’ grades are totally based on their performance in the comprehensive exams at the end of the semester. At the same time, students are required to buy many collections of problems so that their understanding of certain concepts can be enforced.

However, I think the monotonous practise makes students tired of studying in depth, because they know that they will recognize the pattern of certain problems at once. So, if there is a question testing the depth of a student’s understanding, most of them will fail.

However, during my first term at Hanover, I was amazed at the different types of assignments that I was supposed to turn in: papers based on historical movies, opinion papers, presentations, creative projects, monologues and so on. Aside from being nervous about these assignments, I was also very excited to try these new things. I enjoy all the different and creative kinds of assignments that I am given, because they will make me realize my potential even more thoroughly and make me think more deeply at all times. (To be continued.)

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