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Studying in the U.S. is Easier...or Maybe Just Different

  • Jessica Stahl



On Tuesday we shared Ebrahim's story of coming to the U.S. to complete his civil engineering degree. In the interview, he talked about how he found it easier to complete his degree in America than back home in his native Kuwait. The comment has sparked a debate over on lowyat.net, an online community for Malaysia.

Commenter Maru&box argued that Ebrahim found his education easier in the U.S. because he chose to go to an easier school. According to Maru&box, employers back in Kuwait wouldn't recognize the name of the school, and therefore wouldn't know whether it came from a prestigious school or not.

(You can make your own decision about the quality of West Virginia University, where Ebrahim said he received his degree. U.S. News and World Reports ranks WVU #176 on its annual list of best American universities.)

You might remember from our "Don't Study in the U.S." series on the pros and cons of studying in the U.S., we discussed the way employers might perceive degrees from American schools compared to local schools. Korean student Jihye ranked it like this:
Ivy League or other universities that Korean knows really well > Few Korean universities which have good name value > other [foreign] universities (since you can prove that you are fluent in English) > other Korean universities

But other students argued that it is generally easier to get a degree in the U.S. because of the difference in the style of education. It's not that American schools provide a worse education, they said, but that they determine who passes and who fails on different criteria.

Commenter Akidos said he studied in Malaysia and the U.S. and found it more difficult to pass classes in Malaysia because of the emphasis placed by lecturers on retention of classroom material. He said lecturers aim to make sure students are paying attention during class. By contrast, he said:
Foreign Unis on the other hand, will ensure the teaching is meant for students to understand what they are teaching about.

Commenter Double7 agreed that it is easier to pass a U.S. course because of the difference in how a student's performance is assessed:
I've taken my diploma in Malaysia before continuing with my degree in the US. I would say studying in US is a lot less stressful compared to Malaysia. They emphasize on class participation and projects rather than the finals. You have finals that are only 20% to 30% of your total grade compared to Malaysia which is 60%. Also it wouldn't hurt either that some courses in my university allows notes or "cheat sheets" for the final exams.

What do you think? Do you agree with Maru&box or Double7?
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