Education is a fundamental right that all individuals should benefit from. It provides the stepping stone for a person’s development and success and is a formative process throughout their lives. When it comes to higher education, the United States has become one of the most popular destinations in the world for further studies.
With the wealth of opportunities that the nation provides, from ‘The American Dream’ to the elite status of its universities and colleges, the United States is currently one of the best choices that an international student can consider for their higher education.
As is the case, the education system in the United States, while being highly prestigious and diverse, is fairly different from the systems in other countries. This means there are potential advantages as well as disadvantages which should be properly considered by any prospective student. In this article, we will describe the main pros and cons that entail the American education system.
What Are the Pros of the American Education System?
The pros of the US education system are high diversity in its student body, universities that receive global recognition, flexibility when it comes to your academic education, and enriching experience as a student due to countless student-body organizations. In order to specifically address the individual needs of international students, many universities have created a separate department to help international students settle into their new environment.
Learn More: Best Scholarships in USA for international students
What Are the Cons of the American Education System?
The cons of the US education system are really high tuition fees, too much academic diversity among various universities, high admissions requirements when it comes to academics & extracurricular activities, lack of social benefits during your period of study, and federal restrictions when it comes to employment opportunities & work benefits. In the sections down below, we will be covering each point in-depth, so make sure to stay till the end.
Check Also: Available Programs for International Students
Advantages of the American Education System
1. Diversity & Inclusion
The number of international students in the American Education System has increased dramatically over the years. Currently, more than 32% of the student population at the university and college level are international students.
This creates a diverse and varied environment with a mix of various cultures, which allows for different educational reasonings that can further enhance your studying experience. For this reason, universities encourage applicants from foreign countries to apply in order to further diversify the community.
See Also: USA Universities with Highest Acceptance Rates
2. Global Recognition
It comes as no surprise to anyone that the prestige and academic excellence offered by American education are almost unparalleled. With a few exceptions, the majority of colleges and best universities in the United States are among the most highly ranked in the world.
Most universities have a reputation for their rigorous academics and high-quality student experience, where many of the top-ranking universities provide many scholarships and financial awards to their incoming international students. In a recent survey about top universities in the world, 42 of the top 100 universities in the world are located in the country of the United States.
3. Flexibility of Academic Education
With English as the primary language, practically any area of study can be chosen by any student according to his/her personal interests, which improves flexibility. Students have access to an unlimited number of choices for their academic programs, which is a typical case for the majority of higher-education institutions based in the United States.
During your first two years in an undergraduate program, there is the possibility of experimenting and getting a taste of different courses (as opposed to the universities in Europe which require you to study courses relevant to your prospective degree). This is one of the main reasons why university education in the United States is highly valued.
The diversification of the academic degree enables students to gain a well-rounded perspective and not waste any expenses (financial or time-related) by studying what they do not like. When it comes to employment, this helps in the long term since it provides you with a broad base of knowledge and a developed personality.
Learn More: How to Study Bachelor’s in USA
4. Enriching Student Experience
The overall collegiate experience has been described as highly interactive and practical. As the universities attract the best across the world into their campuses, networking and meeting high-profile individuals is a common experience. Learning involves students actively engaging with these networks and having an open discussion and dialogue.
As a means of developing an all-around state of mind, participation in extra-curricular activities is also encouraged. Universities in the US provide hundreds of student organizations and societies for this reason so that students can make active use of their further talents.
In addition, the campus forms the focal point of student life. Your place of residence includes the main facilities such as the dormitories, shops, stores, bars, cafes, clubs, and other essential spaces for students, thereby improving convenience and ease.
Disadvantages of the American Education System
1. High Cost of Tuition
Unfortunately, the high standards of academic excellence come with a price tag. The tuition fees offered by the majority of the universities in the United States happen to be among the highest in the world, often going upwards of USD $45,0000 ~ USD $50,000 per year (depending on the course or degree).
While scholarships and loans are a definite possibility, these cannot be guaranteed due to the immigration status of international students. Personally, we recommend that you avoid getting into debt, so getting a scholarship or any sort of financial aid is a necessity for international students.
See Also: How to Study in the United States for Free
2. Too Much Diversity in Academic Programs
Due to the high diversity in courses in the education system of the United States, each of the 50 states can offer a substantially different curriculum while in the same field of study. This has the possibility of creating discrepancies and teaching gaps as the content will differ from one university to the other.
These types of discrepancies can mean that employers could prefer one university’s qualification to another, which might either place you at an advantage or at a disadvantage based on the company that you want to work in. Make sure to check the educational structure offered by your dream institution before starting your admissions application.
3. High Admission Requirements
As expected, applying to a university or college in the United States is definitely not an easy task. While academics are highly considered, universities look for well-rounded individuals who are proficient in extracurricular activities as well. So only getting straight A’s in your classes is not sufficient if that is the only thing an applicant has to offer!
Standardized tests are another integral part of the admissions requirements, the most common of which is the rigorous SATs. Additionally, international students should be able to demonstrate their English proficiency by either taking a TOEFL or an IELTS exam. Depending on the nature of your course, other exams that may be required are GRE, ACT, MCAT, and LSAT exams.
Learn More: USA Universities with Lowest Acceptance Rates
4. Lack of Social Benefits During Periods of Study
An unfortunate disadvantage of the education system for international students is the limited accessibility (or even lack of access in certain situations) to social benefits. These can include social security and healthcare. The process by which these can be accessed is fairly complex and will require heavy paperwork and time investment.
For international students studying abroad in the United States, getting health insurance is a requirement, which means that additional expenses may incur due to mandatory health insurance. Make sure to keep this in mind since you might have to pay for your health insurance each semester.
5. Restrictions on Employment Opportunities & Work Benefits
Alternatively, work options and opportunities for employment after graduation are other complex factors that can place international students at a disadvantage. Due to the immigration restrictions, getting the opportunity to find work can be a bit difficult.
However, this does not mean that the process is impossible. Post-graduation opportunities are available with proper guidance and research. Options include the F-1 or M-1 type visa application. In order to gain further information in this regard, it would be advised to contact the International Office of a particular university for proper advice on finding work opportunities in the US for international students.
Education is widely recognized as a fundamental right that should be accessible to all individuals, and the United States is one of the best destinations for higher education. However, it’s crucial to carefully evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing higher education before making a decision. Besides knowing the pros and cons of studying here, be sure to check out our guide on how you can apply to universities in the United States.
I hope that this article on the pros and cons of the American Education System was helpful. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.