Depending on what your country of origin is, you may be more or less familiar with teaching styles in the US and Canadian universities. Below you will find five tips on what to expect when you come to the US or Canada to study.
North American universities tend to place a lot of value on individualistic approach to develop your own way of thinking. Expect to do a lot of individual assignments and homework. If you come from a country that places more emphasis on collective work, you will need to get used to study and do research by yourself. This approach has a lot of benefits, such as getting to study at your own pace and developing your own ideas. But don’t worry, you can always reach your professors and advisors if you need any help completing an assignment – North American teachers encourage an open flow of communication.
Individual course work does not exclude group activities. At some point during your studies you will be asked to work on a project in teams. In group assignments you are expected to contribute as much as the rest of the team members. As educators see it, one of the most important benefits of working in teams is conflict resolution and team management. These skills are invaluable in real life work environment and are taught from early on in North American educational institutions.
One of the main differences that you may encounter when you come to study in North America is the ability to control your school schedule and select your classes. If in your home country you had to follow a pre-selected schedule and take all classes with the same group of classmates, it may take you some time to adjust. Soon you will realize the full potential of this educational approach. You will be able to craft your own class schedule, up to the days of the week you would like to go to school, and you will meet more classmates and new friends.
Universities in North America place great value on communication skills. Being able to present your thoughts and findings in a concise and clear manner is a big asset. Be prepared to develop your communication skills by presenting a topic or a project at the end of semester in front of the class. Many international students can benefit from taking a Speech class to learn effective techniques of engaging listeners and holding their attention.
North American institutions rely a lot more on technology and technology-based teaching methods, compared to the rest of the world. If you are used to submitting your homework or a course project to the instructor directly, be prepared to do everything online. There have been many great technological advances in recent years, including upgrades in educational software systems. You will be able to submit all of your assignments, check your semester grades and communicate with your professors online, as well as work together with your classmates on a project remotely using one of many existing collaborative tools.
As you can see, some of the aspects of North American education style may be new to you but they are all aimed at providing you with the strongest educational background possible. You can always talk to one of the Student Enrollment Advisors if you have questions about any aspect of the North American education system. Good luck with your studies!