10 Smart Ways to Adjust to the Academic Culture in USA

Academic Culture in USA

Every country has its own academic culture. The academic culture that you find in India may not be the same that you’ll find in USA. When Indian students move to USA for their higher education, adjusting to the academic culture there becomes one of the most challenging tasks. The academic culture in USA is quite different from that of India. Being an international student in US, the classroom experience can be quite different where there is a larger scope to make friends from all over the world, build self-confidence, express your thoughts more freely and lots more.

How is the American classroom culture?

The American classrooms are learner-centric where students are encouraged to be more participative. They work in small groups and present the projects individually or with other students. The teacher-student atmosphere is more like a facilitator than teacher being the complete authority in the classroom. The students, who have independent thinking, challenging ideas, participate actively in discussions, have individual opinions and ask questions are more successful than students who just sit and memorize.

International students coming from teacher-centered classroom culture have to adapt to American classrooms. They have to put in more handwork and determination. Develop an understanding as to what the professors expect and develop strategies accordingly.

How will you adjust to the academic culture in US?

 On a wider basis American professors expect their students to be more interactive and contribute to discussions. Their emphasis is more towards group working.

 If you have difficulty with the language, you should prepare the questions and comments in advance so that you face less difficulty in classroom discussions.

 Speaking up in the classroom would help you in improving public speaking skills and useful remarks can add up to your grades.

 Active communication is expected by the professors in US so make it a point to ask questions whenever you have doubts. Direct questions are also helpful for the professors to understand where students need more explanation or have doubts.

 The professors are ready to offer clarification to academic topics in or outside the classroom provided students ask relevant questions.

 An interactive class atmosphere doesn’t mean that you can pass comments or be rude. Rudeness at any cost is barred in US’s academic culture.

 In many universities professors allot a few hours once or twice a week when students can approach them outside the classroom and ask questions if they have doubts. This time students can come with their questions or have discussion with professors about the topics they are learning in the classroom. This is a major benefit of studying in US universities where the professors are ready to help students succeed academically.

 You should keep in mind that the final grades are calculated by studying the overall grades of quizzes, short papers, group projects and individual presentations during the semester duration.

 Regular evaluation is done by the professors in the form of weekly notice of quizzes, presentations, etc. Summing up small percentage of class grades results into bigger percentage in final term.

 It is of utmost importance to attend classes regularly as their system is more practice oriented rather than being theory based. You have to keep in touch with your professors and classmates to get good grades at the end of the term.

In short hard work, alertness and a good presence of mind can help you sail smoothly in any American university. Just be polite and respectful of professors and do NOT challenge a professor’s authority as that could backfire on you.


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