How is it to be a student at an american university?

in General Discussion edited January 2014
I read this at CNN and once again I have to wonder about the universities in America compared to scandinavian ones:

1) What the hell is an 18 year old doing at an university? I won´t say that that could not happen here IF they went the straight way K-12 and then headed directly into uni. But the average starting age at my faculty was 24 back in 1999 and is about 22 now, which is the general age at all departments.

2) "dont know what carbs are"? I don´t think anyone doesn´t know what carbs are, not just the danish word (kulhydrat) but also carb(onhydrate).

3) Campus dining hall? 15 meals a week? At University here you take lessons, have group meetings and visit the library (but more often use the public national library). You dont live there and you don´t eat there. You make your own food at home or go to a cafe with your co-students. To have the university care for your food would make me feel like a kindergardener.

Perhaps its just another attitude towards the whole studying thing. I get some of my identity from being a student but surely not all. Its becoming more popular to get children while still a student, so it doesn´t interfere with your carrier later on and you can work up to full time, often at the state administration or in the private sector, using your aquried skills. Most have their own apartment around in Copenhagen. A full time student have to read 2400-3000 pages per semester but only attend 6*45 minutes hours (not mandatory) instruction per week. It is expected that the students are self-driven and isn´t told on a day to day basis what to do. You prove yourself at the exam (three per semester).

I guess it isn´t ideal for the economy to invest a lot of money on students that doesn´t use their knowledge to the benefit of the society before they turn 30. But its ideal for the students because they can design their way through the system so it can be adapted to the rest of my life instead of the other way around.

So are all american universities a city in the city where the students spend all their time, getting feed, work perhaps as a waiter and live at campus, sharing the room with someone else? Or is it just a fictional picture presented by Hollywood? I surely don´t read or see anything to the contrary.


  • Reply 1 of 13
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    Yup, it's really the way it is.

    The first thing to understand is that a much greater % of Americans go to college than most other countries. Many states have dozens of colleges, private and gov't-funded. Thus there are a huge variety of quality and size of institution. Many of the famous ones you've heard of have tens of thousands of students, and yes, they are like their own little cities. The cities that contain the schools I went to basically wouldn't exist if it weren't for the University (I went to Big Ten schools).

    Students live away from home for the first time, live in a dorm, eat at dining halls, and take 5 or 6 classes at a time. It's the best thing in the world.

    Of course there are "commuter schools" where few students live on campus. There's a whole lot of variety, given the number of schools we're talking about. There are tons of two-year colleges, 4-year (undergraduate) colleges, and doctorate-granting institutions.

    It sounds like things are quite a bit different in Dane-land.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    Yes Anders it's kindergarden here. Europeans are very superior to the Americans. Congratulations to you for figuring it out.
  • Reply 3 of 13
    The American Education System(TM) slows the influx of workers into the job pool.

    Other countries direct students to particular fields in proportion to what is needed.

    Same difference...
  • Reply 4 of 13
    i think the american system is horribly flawed. from the beginning of high school, it is drilled into student that they WILL go away to college directly after finishing school. 18 is no age to go away. why do you think there is so much drinking at american colleges? seperation anxiety, fear of the real world. when they get there, they are not challenged. american universities, with the exeption of top teir ones, are no match for schools in other countries when it comes to effort and knowladge required. i plan to travel after high school, then go to a community college. i dont have any desire to move out before i feel i want to.
  • Reply 5 of 13
    Ah but our top tiered universities are the dickens.... (sorry, I am in a weird mood considering the fact that after 9 years, I have found a lost friend from high school)...
  • Reply 6 of 13

    Originally posted by Scott

    Yes Anders it's kindergarden here. Europeans are very superior to the Americans. Congratulations to you for figuring it out.

    here comes Bill O'Reilly ReLoaded.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    tokentoken Posts: 142member
    In Denmark the system is: 3 years Kindergarten (3-5), 9-10 years School (6-14/15), 3 years Gymnasium (16-18), 5 years University (19-24). Most danes take a year or more off - working, traveling - between Gymnasium and University, thus they normally begin their studies later, like Anders. There is a possibility to quit University with a 3 year Bachelor degree, but most don't as its almost impossible to get a job withouth the full 5 years Candidate degree. Most students use at least 6 years before completing their candidate degree, because they have jobs on the side.

    Thus the average age for graduating candidates are more likely to be around 26-28.

    Compared to the US the danish economy has a lot of could-be problems because people graduate later, have lower working hours, longer vacations and retire earlier. But you know what? Most danes love the system, even though they would like to have lowered their taxes
  • Reply 8 of 13

    Originally posted by Scott

    Yes Anders it's kindergarden here. Europeans are very superior to the Americans. Congratulations to you for figuring it out.

    Scott. I urge you to kill yourself.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    bergzbergz Posts: 1,045member
    I like the Aussie method which (I've heard) encourages kids to sow their wild oats abroad for a year when they get out of high school, get that shit out of their system, become more "worldy" or at least less "infantile", get a taste of freedom, and then let them decide what to do with the rest of their lives.

    Any Aussies wish to comment?

  • Reply 10 of 13
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,605member
    It is wrong to assume that everyone shouldn't start college until a certain age. I started college at 17 and was out by 22. I had a lot of fun, lived off campus (made my own food), and had a lot of fun.

    I lived in a small apartment with a close friend who was also in enigneering.

    We attended class regularly, were not spoon fed or told exactly what to do, and I most definitely didn't want any kids poping up during that time.


  • Reply 11 of 13
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member

    Originally posted by Gene Clean

    here comes Bill O'Reilly ReLoaded.

    Actually don't watch him. You seem to assume a lot about me and know nothing at all.
  • Reply 12 of 13
    Anyway. I went to university in London when I was 17 and graduated when I was 20. Too young.

    We had a refectory where people could sit and eat together, but the food was ghastly and I virtually never went.
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