Everyone is dreaming of a college life in the US. ST interviewed a student of UTA (University of Texas at Austin) to find out what university life in the US is like. ...............................Ed
ST: Please introduce yourself.
Cho: I am Cho Eun-chae, a 23-year-old student at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m a nutrition major with a business minor.
ST: Please tell us about the college admissions in American universities.
Cho: College admissions in American universities are different from Korean universities in both procedure and time period. In regards to procedure, Americans take the SAT test in a similar way as Koreans take the KSAT. The SAT scores are used for college admissions. If one is looking to be accepted into an American school, they would have to prepare for the SAT, AP, Essay, and English proficiency tests. Among these, the Essay scores are the most important. There are two Essay tests required – one for the state in which the school is located, and the other for the school itself. Both Essays require writing tailored to both the individual and the field that the applicant is looking to major in. In regard to the application period, although both Korean and American universities accept applications in autumn, American schools announce the results in March or April as opposed to Korean schools announcing their results in January or February.
ST: How are the students graded by the American schools?
Cho: My school uses absolute evaluation for most of the subjects. Usually, courses that are intended for freshmen have a higher percentage of As and Bs. That percentage goes down as students apply for more major-specific courses. Failing grades cannot be removed even if a subject is retaken. In addition, foreign students are required to take a minimum of 12 credits per semester. This is not mandatory for students with a citizenship.
ST: Are there any differences between foreign students and domestic students?
Cho: The tuition fee for foreign students is higher than that of domestic students, and the steps for being granted a leave of absence are more complicated. There are also very few scholarships that are applicable for foreign students.
ST: What are some aspects that you think American universities are better at than Korean universities or vice versa?
Cho: A m e r i c a n universities are more inclusive and respectful of individuality than the Korean universities. As a result, I feel that I can speak and act more freely in an American university. However, because I am accustomed to the Korean education system, which expects specific answers from the students and answers anticipated by the professor, I found it difficult to adapt to in-class debates. This is because I was looking for an answer amid students expressing their different opinions. Furthermore, American universities evaluate students’ individual thoughts and competency when they give assignments or tests. Therefore, there are no solid answers to a given problem. On the other hand, American universities are great in that they provide diverse opportunities for the students. They usually have a variety of clubs and a lot of internships to choose from. The downside of American universities is that there are so many students that solidarity is non-existent.
ST: Please tell us about the graduation requirements.
Cho: The requirements of the universities are different in detail. Basically, their graduation requirements include 120 major credits.
T: What can you say about the university life in America?
Cho: In America, there is no MT or freshman OT for two days because there are too many students. Also, because there are so many people in student clubs, no bonds are formed among the people in the same club.
ST: Please explain the future of the students in your major. Cho: 70% of the students are pre-med, while 30% of the students enter graduate school. There are some cases where students get a specialized job.
ST: Please explain the change of major system in the university.
Cho: Usually, students go to universities with a decided major, but then they change their minds. It is similar with the Korean universities’ system. During freshman, you do not have to get a major. However, during sophomore year, you are required to choose a major. In UTA, we are given the freedom to change our major.
ST: Please tell us about the enrollment system.
Cho: In American universities, the applicants can register for courses online, which is similar to the Korean universities. We usually do this right before the upcoming semester, which is favorable to the students. Our university has its own website where we can check the enrollment status. Students in the US have a lot of complaints regarding the enrollment system. We pay the same tuition fee, but not everyone can take the course they want. I think it means that there is no guarantee in the right for learning.
ST: What advice can you give to people who dream of studying abroad?
Cho: Language and clear objectives are very important in studying abroad. Even if you are not good at English, you should at least feel comfortable in talking in English. Life in a university varies between people who have a clear goal or otherwise. Studying abroad is not as easy as you think.
Park Yoo-bin (ST Reporter)
Lee Tae-ran (ST Cub-Reporter)