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Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!

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cwm:
US here. As to class size, we had the massive lectures where I couldn't even tell you a single other person's name in the course. But for my music courses, even the lecture style ones only had about 45 students, and the professor knew all of us by sight and most of us by name. And for the rest of the music courses, we could have as few as four or five students in a class.

I had one great professor in my electives who took his time to know all of his students. By two weeks in he'd recognize each of our faces and one or two things about us. That course had about 25 students in it. But the lecture hall-type courses they wouldn't know any of us or whether we were there or not. Attendance was taken by a sheet circulating around the room, and more often than not I'd see one person with a list of names that they'd write down, and it was always a different person.

Some of the instructors had us worry about word count, some of them did page count. It's fairly standard, though, how many words are on a page. One instructor told us the paper should be 5-8 pages, and if the paper went to 9 pages, he'd stop reading at page 8 and grade you on that. He instituted that policy when he said 5-8 pages and someone actually turned in a 20 page paper on the topic. It failed, having only presented one point by page 8, but he did give that student a second chance to cut it down.

CakeEater:
How common is it to go to graduate school straight after finishing your undergraduate degree?

I'm a primary school teacher. I did a 4-year degree, made up of 36 subjects which gave me a bachelor of education. It's extremely uncommon in that field, anyway, and many other degree courses, to do a master's level degree immediately. Some do a master's degree 10-20 years later.

I also get the impression that you go off to college in the US and do all sorts of subjects in different areas. That's pretty uncommon here too. You would usually do a degree in nursing, or law, or pychology, or acounting, and follow a fairly prescribed set of subjects.

I only picked 4 elective subjects in four years, and they had to all be from a specific area. So out of my 36 subjects, I could have done 4 electives all in the area of early childhood education, or literature, or history etc. The rest all just appeared on my timetable. And because my uni was pretty small, there was no planning my own timetable. It came prescribed as well.

Sharnita:
For teachers I think it tends to be a bit diffetent. To keep my teaching cerification I need so many credits every so many years. Once I get it remewed, the clock resets and I have to restart. The first do many had to be grad ctedits. So I waited a few years, started my grad program, tenewed with my credits part way through, finished my program and renewed again eith the second half of the credits.

camlan:

--- Quote from: CakeEater on July 17, 2013, 04:57:32 PM ---

I also get the impression that you go off to college in the US and do all sorts of subjects in different areas. That's pretty uncommon here too. You would usually do a degree in nursing, or law, or pychology, or acounting, and follow a fairly prescribed set of subjects.

I only picked 4 elective subjects in four years, and they had to all be from a specific area. So out of my 36 subjects, I could have done 4 electives all in the area of early childhood education, or literature, or history etc. The rest all just appeared on my timetable. And because my uni was pretty small, there was no planning my own timetable. It came prescribed as well.

--- End quote ---

There are exceptions, but most US colleges and universities do require a mix of courses. There are usually "core courses" or "core requirements" that have every student taking 2 math courses, 2 science courses, two humanities courses and two social science courses, for example.  Or sometimes students have to take two courses where math is a large component, but the courses that are designated to fill that requirement could be in physics, or engineering or some other subject area.

Most students have some electives, but these can be any course the student wants to take, as long as they meet the requirements for the courses. Some programs, like nursing, are very rigid with the courses required and the students don't get many electives. The number of electives you might have depends on the number of required courses for your major and how you fulfill your core requirements.

Many colleges and universities have requirements for writing, math and languages. So you have to take certain courses that meet the university's requirements--Freshman English is a good example. Some universities have placement exams given to freshmen, or they use SAT scores, to determine if students need additional math classes or foreign language classes.

I think the reason for the difference lies in the high school education the US requires vs. the UK. I get the impression that high school students in the UK are already specializing a bit in various subject areas, while the typical US high school requires math, English, history, and science for all the students.

Most degrees in the US require 4 years of college. If I'm not mistaken, some universities in the UK have 3 year programs? That could affect the differences, as well.

Sharnita:
Yeah, we had to take a placement test.  Absolutely everyone had to do at least some English - the placement test determined where you started.  Somehow the grace of God allowed me to test out of any math.  Everyone had to do some science - I did more than the minimum.  There was at least one "art" - music or art appreciation required.  There was some sort of humanities/social studies requirement.  There was also a health/gym requirement.  I think the health part was at least partly because it was the early 90's and they felt the need to educate students about AIDS and other STDs. It didn't matter what your major/program you had to meet those requirements.  Everyone had to pass a writing test before graduating as well.

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