U.S. Education 101
Unlike other countries in which students attend universities and usually have a year long course load with predefined courses to take, the U.S. offers a more flexible path to follow. The average four-year undergraduate study period is divided into these classifications:
- Major: As the name implies, it consists of the concentration of a student’s workload. This is usually the academic field in which the student decides he or she would like to specialize. The major is also a stepping stone for the master’s degree.
- Minor: This classification enhances and facilitates the major field of study. Students taking a specific major would usually minor in a field that will help them gain a better understanding of the major. Sometimes, students select a minor in a field that stimulates their interest but does not relate to their major.
- Core: These are the courses which students are required to take. These courses are usually not related to a student’s major or minor but are necessary to attain a degree. In essence, these are the predefined courses which a student has to follow.
- Elective: These are the courses a student may choose and are used to complete the number of hours required for a student to graduate. Sometimes students have a choice of electives, which allows them to pursue their hobbies and other interests.
Grade Point Average (GPA)+
The grades are generally based on percentages: 90%= A, 80%=B, 70%=C, 60%=D, below 60%= F. Each letter grade is provided a specific number of points. A=4; B=3; C=2; D=1; F=0. The GPA is calculated based on the points above and the credit hours. The GPA is the ration of the total accumulated points from the above scale and the total number of credit hours taken.
GPA= TOTAL NUMBER OF POINTS
TOTAL CREDIT HOURS
Tests and Quizzes+
As an alternative, some teachers divide their examination pattern into “Test 1, Test 2, etc” format. Test 1 consists of the things that are covered until that test is given. The topics covered in this test are no longer asked for in a later exam.
Quizzes are administered to insure that students are studying for their classes regularly. The quiz results may comprise a small percentage of the total grade. A variance is the pop quiz. Unlike the other quizzes, the pop quiz is unannounced.
Examination Style – Subjective vs. Objective+
Examinations are divided into these basic categories:
Subjective examinations are also called essay examinations. The questions asked on the exam demand answers of a descriptive nature. Answers may require a brief response or extensive discussion of a particular topic.
Teachers often favor objective examinations. These exams consist of true/false questions; fill in the blanks; matching the correct answers; and short answers. The dominant type is multiple choice exams. One question will have several possible answers, and students will have to select the correct one.
Group Projects vs. Plagiarism+
Copying someone else’s material and labeling it as your own is called plagiarism. Plagiarism is cause for severe reprimand. Students must be careful to avoid plagiarism, even if by mistake. Such may lead to course failure or academic suspension.