Better for a college student: UK or US?

Since the same question i posted in that other thread is getting ignored, i’ve just started a new thread.

Currently I’m a junior in high school exploring all my options for college. I have neither an american or british citizenship, or any sort of affiliations to either country so there’s nothing that’s really pushing towards one or the other. Well actually, i go to a school that uses the american system, so that could be deciding factor, but i’m also oddly attracted to the UK, despite the godawful weather, high living costs, and (supposedly) bad food.

But which do you think is a country more fit for a college student? I know the US is a huge country and it depends where, but i’m speaking in very general terms.
If you’ve visited or lived in both countries, your opinion would be extremely valuable.

You have to specify what you want to study

For computers, the United States.

For English History, England.
See, depends.

I still haven’t really decided… I’m torn up between Social Sciences, Communications, and Literature + Creative Writing. I’m even considering a double major so i can study more of the things i’m interested in.
But also in terms of social enviroment… Which is more student-friendly? I would think the states because of cheaper costs, but i don’t know.

I attended universities in both the UK and the US. The systems really are quite different. To generalize…

UK: intensive 3 year courses, usually focusing on one subject only. Small teaching groups. (At my UK uni I never had a single lecture - just 2 tutorials a week). Most of the examinations and grading come down to a small number of exams and papers, often all or mostly coming towards the end of the 3rd year (though there are exams earlier to ensure you’r paying attention). Very essay based, if you’re doing a liberal arts degree. You learn one subject to a high level (probably equivalent to a master’s level in the US).

US: broad 4 year courses where you concentrate on just one subject towards the end. So nearly everyone does at least some literature, a language, some science etc. Teaching is fairly impersonal - big classes, with personal attention only from grad students. Ongoing assessment through the 4 years through term papers and end-of-term Q&A exams. You probably don’t learn your main subject to quite the same level as in the UK (even allowing for the extra year), but you are exposed to much wider range of subjects.

You could argue the relative merits all day. I would note that the US is a far more popular destination than the UK for foreign students, and UK universities are gradually inching towards the US assessment system.

If you’re in science and are interested in research, it’s got to be the US. But then, the minimum drinking age in the US is 21, while it’s 18 in the UK. So that clinches it.

You should also specify what country you’re coming from, non-native. If you live in the European Union, you won’t have to pay overseas tuition at UK universities, and, if you live in a Commonwealth country, it may be possible for you to get a Commonwealth Scholarship at some UK universities.

I went to US universities for four years (and two summers), and to UK universities for six years–I know, career student–and I would concur that both systems have their own strengths and weaknesses. If you’re having problems early on in your college career, there are a lot more opportunities for help in the US system. In fact, I would characterise the US system as a lot more approachable and flexible in general. On the other hand, if you like to work at your own pace, the UK system is a little better. Be forewarned, though, that in a lot of fields, the final exam at the end of your third year counts for everything in the UK. So, if you don’t hold up well under exam pressure, the US system is a better bet because your grade is determined by exams and essays throughout your college career.

But as I say, a lot of it depends on what you’re taking, and where you’re coming from. I’d be able to supply more info if you post that info…

OK, you posted your potential subjects while I was typing…for Communications I’d say the US would be a better bet, Literature the UK, and Social Sciences would depend on what you wanted to emphasise.

Could anybody comment on classroom culture in the UK? For instance, is there a fair amount of give and take between students and instructors, or are students treated as empty vessels waiting to be filled with Wisdom From On High? What would the reading load and requirements for a typical literature class be like, and how would students spend their time in the classroom (chatting about books, listening to lectures, giving oral reports, other?)

Fretful, get ready for a shock…the average undergrad reading list in a history class in the UK is about 200 books! Not per semester, per subject! Obviously, they don’t expect you to read every book cover to cover, but they do expect you to know something about what’s contained in them, and to read at least some of them. I don’t know what an average literature reading list would be like…it would probably be fewer because you’d be going over the books in detail.

As for “classroom culture”–in the UK there are really two types of undergrad class structure, both of which are included in each subject you take (at least for liberal arts subjects)–lecture and tutorial. The lecture is what you’re used to in the States: professor stands up, talks about subject for about 45 minutes. It’s not taken nearly as seriously in the UK as in the US, because the real crux of the class is the tutorial. Every week, a group of four or five (two, if it’s Oxford or Cambridge) students meets the professor on their own. Each student must (well, should) bring an essay on a topic agreed during the previous week. One unlucky student has to read out their essay to the professor, and then the four or five students debate the essay. The professor also asks them questions on the agreed topic, or sometimes on the week’s lectures. Obviously there’s a lot more contact with the professors, then, but it can also be very stressful, especially if the professor is a jerk, a situation which occurred with alarming regularity at the two universities I attended. Also, if you don’t complete your essay on time (and you have a week in which to do it) you are toast.

I don’t know if English Literature undergraduate classes are substantially different in the UK (my bad–my ex is a literature grad after all) but I don’t think so.

Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a lecture class on literature or history in the US, and I’m having a hard time trying to imagine what one would be like. (I did suffer through a few in Spain, but Spaniards have rather bizarre ideas about what a lit course should comprise; reading actual books seems to be optional.) Does the prof really talk all the time, or is there some time set aside for questions and discussion? Is the lecture supposed to be about factual material, the professor’s own ideas on the subject, recent scholarship, or what?

From what I remember of my undergrad history courses, in the classroom professors generally focused on teaching students how to analyze primary sources – secondary scholarship wasn’t much of an issue except in upper-level seminars, and we were expected to acquire most of the which-battle-was-fought-when information from the assigned reading (sometimes you’d get it again in class if you were lucky). How would classes in the UK compare?

I attended undergraduate liberal arts courses at U Illinois in Champaign in the 70’s, and U Wisconsin in Madison in the 90’s (finally got a degree in 98:)) Both were pretty similar. Very large (200-300 students) lectures, “discussion sections” typically from 15-30 students and a grad student. Occasionally, a prof would teach a discussion section as well, for the more aspiring undergrads.

Social life was fairly sharply divided by living status – dormitories, fraternities, apartments, local “townie” students.

Main recreational activities: binge drinking and attending school sports events, binge drinking and film festivals, binge drinking and… well, you get the point. Oh yeah, two others of note – deer hunting and snowmobiling. Both sometimes associated with binge drinking.

Having never been to the UK, I’m not qualified to compare the two. But it seems safe to say that if you’re interested in older stuff, go to the UK. If you’re interested in newer stuff, come to the US. The UK has one big advantage, though, which is close proximity to a more diverse cultures just a hop across or under the Channel. And I’ve heard that Europe is much better organized in public transportation. You would have trouble seeing much of America without a car, though you will also find on campus parking virtually impossible to find. But at either UI or UW it is pretty easy to get by without a car if you stayed near campus.

I don’t want to pry into your background, but your ethnicity, accent and/or skin tone may be a factor in how you are received in different places in the US. If you wish any further comments on this, please let us know.

Though i’m not sure how much of a difference it would make in the admission proccess, I have a korean citizenship and am asian (who woulda thunk?), and right now i live in Guatemala. If it’s of any relevance i lived in lots of other countries too, so i guess i could try to emphasis my international-ness. I know that public american colleges don’t like international students, and that some are sick of getting so many damn asians (for example UC Berkeley).

I think from the information give here (thanks to all of you), I’m leaning towards an american college, because british colleges sound simply intimidating… Although i am curious, what is the average british college student’s lifestyle like? Same as the american with lots of binge drinking (which i have to talent for)?
Again thanks for all the responses.