How do I get used to the 'America' style of university? :(

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Thordean
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#1
Report Thread starter 7 years ago
#1
Hello everyone,

So, I recently transferred to pretty obscure, private liberal arts college in the USA, from a top 25 university in the UK. I have always been used to the UK style of learning and gave my GCSEs, A-Levels and did an year and a half of university in the UK.

However, my family decided to move to the USA. I would have stayed in the UK and lived in halls, but unfortunately I have severe Autism, ADHD and social anxiety and thus have never been away from my parents. I got admitted to the nearest college I could find to my parent's house.

Unfortunately, I am having an EXTREMELY hard time adjusting to the ''American'' system of university. I am doing a humanities degree and we hardly have to write any essays. Most of our work consists of tests and quizzes and short answers. The professor would give a quiz asking us the names of the characters in a particular book and multiple choice questions over a storyline of a particular book. This is literally completely opposite of what I learnt in the UK where everything consisted of analytical essays. Writing is my strong point and I have always done extremely well and got a 4.0 in my English Literature first year of university in the UK.

I am having an extremely hard time adjusting to the weird quizzes and class prep papers instead of writing deep, analytical essays. We have to submit a class prep paper everyday where we write short answers to questions that the teachers assigns. I feel that all of this is not challenging me enough and I am horrible at memorizing and multiple choice stuff when all I have done in the past is writing essays.

I am extremely depressed to the point where I am suicidal but I know I cannot live without my parents so moving to the UK or a much prestigious university here in the USA (do prestigious universities have these random quizzes and tests instead of essays too?!) is out of question.

Is there anything I can do to adjust to the American system of college? I am a junior (third year) is that matters.
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fGDu
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#2
Report 7 years ago
#2
Hey dude, don't worry, the English system that you left is still there, and there will always be a place where your skills will be appreciated.
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Thordean
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#3
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#3
Anyone?
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carjour
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#4
Report 7 years ago
#4
Sorry I can't help with your direct question, but have you considered distance learning with a UK university instead? A relative is doing a BA with the Open University and it's a proper 'British-style' degree but she lives miles from the 'university'.
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apple32
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#5
Report 7 years ago
#5
I'm sorry this class isn't working out for you. Your case might just be specific to that professor. What is the title of the class?

Can I ask what your major is? English? Creative Writing? From the English classes I took when I was in uni, the kind of assignments you are interested in is what my class was like - and it was just introductory English. However, that is how it is for the English major. You have reading assignments from a couple of books and then write essays.

In the future, before you enroll for the next quarter or semester, you can check to see if the professor has a syllabus posted online that you can review. If not, you can contact the professor about his or her class so you can avoid this situation again.

If it was still the first two weeks of the quarter, I would tell you to drop the class. I am assuming you are already half way into your quarter or semester system, so it may be too late.
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zero_gravity
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#6
Report 7 years ago
#6
(Original post by Thordean)
Hello everyone,

So, I recently transferred to pretty obscure, private liberal arts college in the USA, from a top 25 university in the UK. I have always been used to the UK style of learning and gave my GCSEs, A-Levels and did an year and a half of university in the UK.

However, my family decided to move to the USA. I would have stayed in the UK and lived in halls, but unfortunately I have severe Autism, ADHD and social anxiety and thus have never been away from my parents. I got admitted to the nearest college I could find to my parent's house.

Unfortunately, I am having an EXTREMELY hard time adjusting to the ''American'' system of university. I am doing a humanities degree and we hardly have to write any essays. Most of our work consists of tests and quizzes and short answers. The professor would give a quiz asking us the names of the characters in a particular book and multiple choice questions over a storyline of a particular book. This is literally completely opposite of what I learnt in the UK where everything consisted of analytical essays. Writing is my strong point and I have always done extremely well and got a 4.0 in my English Literature first year of university in the UK.

I am having an extremely hard time adjusting to the weird quizzes and class prep papers instead of writing deep, analytical essays. We have to submit a class prep paper everyday where we write short answers to questions that the teachers assigns. I feel that all of this is not challenging me enough and I am horrible at memorizing and multiple choice stuff when all I have done in the past is writing essays.

I am extremely depressed to the point where I am suicidal but I know I cannot live without my parents so moving to the UK or a much prestigious university here in the USA (do prestigious universities have these random quizzes and tests instead of essays too?!) is out of question.

Is there anything I can do to adjust to the American system of college? I am a junior (third year) is that matters.
I'm sorry to hear about that.

As someone else has suggested, it might be a better idea if you choose distance learning from a UK university. I do know that it is hard to adjust to another educational system, especially having been taught a certain way since childhood.

I don't know if this would be of much help, but I would highly suggest taking electives that you enjoy learning and use that as a means of balancing the workload. In the case that you found something that you like, you could transfer to another programme. Some programmes that I believe would include more essay writing are philosophy, history, or political science. I would also suggest using the support services at your college and seek a counsellor to see if there are any accommodations or alternative options that they could provide you with in order to make your transition a more comfortable one.
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mathplustutornj
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#7
Report 6 years ago
#7
This is a kind of older thread, but it sounds like this liberal arts college is not a very good school. High school in the US tends to have daily homework assignments and many tests and quizes. Students are used to that and some colleges may oblige them. I went to Johns Hopkins and English classes there usually involved writing 3 papers a semester and a final exam. There were no quizes or homework assignments. The final exam would have several essays, where you had a choice of several topics to write on. I assume that is fairly similar to British/European universities. You probably should go back to your school in England or something. It doesn't sound like a good school you are going to.
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mathplustutornj
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#8
Report 6 years ago
#8
The US system is more oriented towards more exams and less essays particularly at the high school level. I haven't heard of a college humanities class that wasn't mostly writing papers and essay exams. At top US schools, classes and exams are structured pretty similarly to in Europe though. Mediocre liberal arts schools tend to have more packaged material, but all essays or problems for exams.That school sounds pretty bad. Probably the students aren't comfortable writing essays or studying for final exams, so the school accommodates them. An English degree from somewhere like that probably has little marketability in the US. You might look up how it ranks in average SATs, what its admissions acceptance percentage is, and so on. A #25 school in Britain might be about the equivalent of a #100 school in the US, because the US has a lot more schools. I would recommend going to a better US school, back to England, or something.
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Kenicke
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#9
Report 6 years ago
#9
Hi Thordean,

I realise this a relatively old thread. I hope you're feeling somewhat better.

If you are feeling like it's too much at any point, the following are some things you might find useful (we all need help at times, don't beat yourself up, friend!)


1-800-273-TALK is a number you can call if you are feeling like life really pushing you down and need some advice. They are available 24/7, so call anytime.

https://www.reddit.com/r/depression is a place I have used in the past. You can post if you want. If not, reading about people's stories may give you insights in how you may cope in your own way. Reddit also has subreddits for Anxiety and Suicidal thoughts, if you want them and can't find them, or want to ask anything else for that matter, send me a message and I'd be delighted to help out!

During tough points last winter, I tried to make myself meditate. Even if my mind was racing 10000km an hour and I felt dizzy I tried to sit down and breathe. It did not eliminate it, but I felt I could cope. I really like it and still do it regularly.

Another thing you might want to consider is writing. On a paper, or word document, it doesn't really matter. Getting it out on something gives whatever you are a bit of a respite. Seeing it there in front of you won't eliminate the issues, but it helped me just put things in perspective a little.

Thordean, it sounds like you're having a really tough time. But, YOU ARE WORTH IT, okay. You are a human being and we go through tough times, sometimes days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months and sometimes even years. They are horrible, those periods. But you WILL get through them. You WILL come out stronger. Heck, I reckon you're pretty damn resilient person already, given your experiences. I reckon you should be proud of yourself. Think about it, give yourself a smile for doing the things you've done no matter how massive or small they are.

You'll get through this, you will.
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Reve21
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#10
Report 6 years ago
#10
Well, I'm American, and graduated from a U.S. college. For multiple choice tests, definitely study a your notes a little everyday. Especially right after the class. Most times the professor will tell what section of a book, etc. you need to study and then you just go from there. You could always meet with them during office hours to get an idea of what will be tested. With these kinds of tests, you don't really want to study too much different information. Try to break it down into sections and definitely do not cram!
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Reve21
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#11
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#11
You do get less exams and quizzes in college, but there are a few during each semester. It honestly depends on the class and professor. You will have your share of research papers for sure!
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mathplustutornj
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#12
Report 6 years ago
#12
The top schools in the US are more or less on the level with top schools in Britain. However, mediocre schools can be pretty bad. Nowhere decent would give multiple choice and short answer tests in humanities classes. It seems like a bad situation if your parents are paying a of money for a bad school, you are hating it, and not getting good grades when you were doing OK at a #25 school in England.
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