Relationship Between Students and Advisors
The academic advisor plays an important part in a student’s academic life, helping them to graduate at the scheduled time. The advisor is responsible for guiding students toward this desired goal and assists them in the selection of a path to attain it.
In most countries, the concept of an advisor does not exist. The students have a fixed study load they have to follow without deviation, so they usually do not interact with any individual in the position of an advisor to help them. Also, students have to keep track of their own studies and academic matters.
In the United States, interaction with an advisor is an essential part of a student’s academic life. Any student who comes to Samford University is assigned an academic advisor who keeps the “records” of the student and checks periodically on the student’s academic progress. These records consist of the student’s academic well-being, which relates to student’s grades and the way an individual student is progressing in his/her studies. The advisor is also responsible for assisting students in the selection of classes that will help them to follow their required and desired course load with efficiency.
Relationship Between Students and Faculty
The relationship between students and faculty in the United States is more informal than in most other countries in which a teacher is more distant from students. Faculty members have a greater interaction with students in contrast to countries in which it is sometimes difficult to get in touch with the teacher after class. The idea of office hours is also something that is not common in other countries. Teachers in the United States are typically required to have a specific number of hours in a week in which a student may discuss his/her problems. If a student is uncomfortable asking questions about coursework in class, these office hours can be very helpful.
The student/faculty relationship in the U.S. is a more unconventional and casual approach in which students can address their issues in a comparatively more relaxed way. The classroom atmosphere is much more casual. Sometimes, students are allowed to carry food and drinks into the classroom to serve the needs of a mobile American society. This is much different from countries in which the students are not allowed to do anything in the class except study.
Students in the U.S. participate actively in class. They provide verbal feedback to the teachers inside and outside of the classroom. In fact, teachers vigorously encourage this interaction as this helps students to have a better understanding of the topic. Students can disagree with the professor and participate in a healthy debate. The approach is unconventional, but it does not affect the learning experience in any way.
Credit/Semester/Quarter Hours—An academic year in the United States is classified in either semesters or quarters. A semester consists of 15 weeks of a study period in which students attend their classes. Students receive varied amounts of credit hours for attending a class throughout the semester. Typically, they will earn 3–4 for any given class. There are two semesters in a year, the fall and spring. Summer is also classified as a semester but it is broken down into two separate sessions.
At Samford, the semester system is used. The usual undergraduate workload for a semester is 12 credit hours. At the graduate level, the students take 9 credit hours for a semester. These are the required number of hours to classify a student as being full-time. Students attending classes adding up to fewer credit hours than mentioned above do not fall into the full-time student category. Credit hours are a confusing concept for many international students, as this notion is not prevalent in many countries. In most academic programs, a student has to complete 120 credit hours to obtain an undergraduate degree and 33–36 credit hours to complete a graduate degree.