​Life at a US university

Living on Campus

Life on a US university or college campus is dynamic and energetic. Campus life presents many challenges, such as living with a roommate for the first time, but it also offers students a safe environment in which to meet and interact with one another. My Education (UK) encourages participants to involve themselves readily in campus life by joining social groups, sports teams or even writing for the campus newspaper. It is through active participation and involvement that you will meet a wide range of people and understand more about American and international culture. You will also gain personal skills and lifelong friendships.

  • Accommodation and diet

    Go Campus students live on campus in university residence halls and apartments. By living in university housing you can interact with and learn from other students in a safe environment. You will have easy access to the university facilities to encourage your academic success. There will also be a plethora of canteens for you to use each day which will offer a wide range of food for every diet.

  • Sports

    Sports are a great way for international students to make friends and get exercise. You can choose from the wide variety of sports and leagues available such as softball, la crosse and ice hockey. You do not have to be strong at the sport to participate. These activities will provide a wider range of social activities while keeping you healthy.

  • Student Life

    Life outside of the classroom is vibrant and stimulating with many different clubs and organisations to join. You can become an active member of university life by involving yourself in the many activities and events that are available.

  • Safety

    Each university or college will have a Department of Public Safety who work with the institution to ensure security on campus. This presence creates a safe and secure environment where faculty, staff and students can follow their work and education.

  • Health

    All Go Campus participants must be insured while studying in the USA. Your university may have a required health plan or you can choose your own with the assistance of My Education (UK) if you need guidance. Your campus will have health facilities available to you for you any needs that you may have.

The Academic Year

The precise dates for the academic year may vary from university to university but the academic year usually runs from early September to the end of May. The year is usually broken into two semesters of about 18 weeks in length but it could also be in quarters or trimesters.

The main holidays are:

  • Christmas break of between two and four weeks
  • A week off for ‘Spring Break’ at some time in March or April
  • A six or eight week Summer holiday
  • The Summer break can also be used for Summer classes if you wish to

Degree Courses

There are four types of courses that you will take during your degree in the USA:

  • Core courses:

    These are required of all students and cover Maths, English, Humanities, Physical and Social Sciences. Each college has a different number of core courses required by their students.

  • Major Courses:

    Your major is the subject that you choose to specialise in and the courses will make up between a quarter and a half of your credits for your degree. Some universities will allow students to graduate with a double major in related topics, but it is not always possible.

  • Minor course:

    A minor is a subject that a student may choose to focus on behind their major. Minor courses usually account for half of the number of credits that constitutes your Major.

  • Elective courses:

    These courses can be chosen from any area. These electives allow you to explore other topics that might interest you and they help to make up the total numberof required credits.

Grades

In a similar manner to some UK universities, US universities use a method of continual assessment and so it is important to dedicate yourself to your studies from day one of your degree. Every course is important as it might affect your final grade. Each course will have different methods of assessment which may include; examinations, essays, attendance, participation, presentations, practical work. It is vital to consider all aspects of a course to ensure that you are able to achieve a top grade.

What is a GPA?

Every student is awarded a GPA at the end of their degree. This is a Grade Point Average (GPA). Each course contributes to your final GPA but courses from your first year are weighted less heavily than your final year course. To calculate your GPA you take the numerical value of the grade assigned to you (usually A=4, B=3 etc) then multiply this number by the number of credits each course is worth. Finally add these numbers together and divide by the total number of credits for all courses.

Some universities also offer an Honours degree. To qualify for this you must complete additional courses and credits and write a thesis. The precise details vary from university to university and between academic departments but your academic advisor will be able to guide you on the right path to become an Honours student.

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