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THREE things you need to know before choosing the best university to kickstart your academic careers

By Jasmine Chan

The demand for studying abroad is increasing in Hong Kong. Many parents intend to send their kids for further education overseas with better university rankings and flexible education plans. According to an SCMP article, more than 1:4 of Hong Kong secondary school leavers left to study abroad. It signifies the trend remains high and seems to incline. Everyone wants to attend a prestigious school to prepare for a better future, seek better job opportunities, and broaden their horizons.

The U.S. and U.K. are two of Hong Kong students' and parents' most desirable studying abroad destinations. We must be assured of the differences between popular study-abroad destinations, which might affect a significant portion of students' overall academic and cultural experience.

Here are three pieces of advice that a student should consider when pursuing the study.

The vast difference in the educational measurement system

  • Length of a degree: U.K. universities usually take three years to finish a bachelor's degree, and U.S. colleges take one more year (Four years) for the degree requirement.

  • Above all, students should also consider whether their specialized major requires further study (Master's or even Ph.D.) after finishing their bachelor studies, etc. Psychology, Biology, Science, Law, Architecture. The master's degree in the U.S. usually takes two years, and it is usually <1.5 years for the U.K. It takes more than five years to pursue a Ph.D. in the U.S. and a shorter period in the U.K. The duration of getting academic qualifications can significantly impact a student's plan.

Different academic curriculums in both college systems.

  • Mandatory course requirement: In the United States, most colleges must complete General Education (Gen Ed) credits while fulfilling major requirements.

  • For example, the University of California (UC) system requires the student to take courses that do not belong to the student's chosen major to train them to be well-rounded; Ivy leagues colleges such as Harvard and Brown also require their students to take Gen Ed course in different aspects, Art & Humanities, Social Science, to enhance student to be prepared with a broader knowledge with various topics and build up soft skills like critical thinkings ad communication strategies.

  • The Gen Ed courses are rare to see in the U.K. university's curriculum, as the duration of a Bachelor's degree is shorter in the U.K. (3 years). Course plans are more focused on a student's specialized major due to the time shortage and are more structured on the major's industry skills and knowledge.

Teaching styles matter

  • Workload varies according to the country: Typically, it is common to have quizzes/assignments/midterms/exams in U.S. colleges all the time, as deadlines are never-ending. This makes it challenging to balance work-life because of the number of workloads.

  • Also, to complete all required credits by the end of the semester, students must choose their courses following their major requirements and GenEd requirements. To complete the Bachelor's degree sooner, they can take more courses during undergraduate studies.

  • While coursework is relatively less in the U.K than in the U.S., Usually, students only have a few deadlines in a term. The U.K. universities assign a student's course schedule when they enroll and are expected to complete the degree at its designated period.

"Birds of a feather, flock together." The Russell Group in the U.K. and the U.S Ivy League school is incredibly competitive internationally, and getting a spot in the world-recognized colleges under such a lower acceptance is a substantial milestone as you are on the right way to meeting inspirational people who could build you to a better person academically and mentally. You could also get to network with many world-influenced alums and schoolmates.

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