U.S. Academic Culture: A Firsthand Reflection by Hasna El Asri

The only truth I used to hold in my mind about the U.S. academic system was its ranking among the first globally. Today, I am experiencing this truth through my own personal perspective. I finally stepped into the American classroom and gained the greatest insight into what is truly called the U.S. academic system. As a Global UGRAD exchange student in Saginaw Valley State University, I can observe and learn about all the different and effective approaches that are used in an American university.

English Language Learning: Vocabulary

Some of the fascinating teaching methods are the ones English teachers utilize to increase their students’ vocabulary. Before delving into learning and memorizing, students first learn about active learning strategies and memory processes to understand how their brains function to acquire new vocabulary. Then the students explore their personal learning styles and strategies. Students subsequently start learning a few vocabulary words as professors explain new words and provide context clues to make sure students have a clear understanding of the meaning. At the end of each class, all students are required to write down the new learned vocabulary on index cards and turn them in to the professor. This method works incredibly well in growing students’ glossaries.

In-Class Study Groups

Another teaching method that I admire is called “In-Classroom Student Groups”. Grouping students for each activity and establishing a problem-solving team is a highly impactful way of teaching. It strengthens the spirit of cooperation among students and encourages the sharing of knowledge. The above mentioned examples are just to name few of a range of advantageous studying tips with which a student can achieve excellence in their academic life.

Staff and Faculty Resources

Another thing that I admire about my university is the fact that professors are unbelievably approachable. They are always offering their assistance for students through open office hours to answer students questions, help them with their homework and explain their missed points in their classes. Tutoring centers also have a vital role in contributing to students’ academic progress. They are a knowledge haven for all of the students no matter what major they are pursuing.  In addition, there is an office called Student Counseling Service designed for students to tackle their emotional and personal issues. They have well-trained professional counselors that are confidential to whom students can explore their true feelings and worries. This method is a panacea for many students as it helps them reduce stress and remove all of their concerns, it makes them concentrate on their studies more enthusiastically and productively.

Campus Facilities

The campus’s physical design and student facilities are no less important when it comes to a successful college education. Entertainment spaces, library, gym, activity lounges, computers and printers, free services, and dining areas, all of which are a powerful reinforcement and a tremendously leading force for learners to make the most out of their academic journey. Classrooms are well equipped with the necessary learning material and advanced technology with a few number of students. Libraries are a very large comfortable space designed to fit students’ needs with huge numbers of books and references, and they have modern and peaceful interior designs to stimulate a great desire to read and study. Sport centers are a great place for students to work out their physical energy and gain back their peace of mind as well as renovating their lifestyles. Not only does the university cares about students’ academic achievements and their physical and mental health, but it also gives a huge importance to their personal leisure and diversion through weekly entertainment, movie shows, video games and music nights. The learning environment that is provided for students inside the university is an efficacious and rewarding way to nurture students’ development, the space’s dimensions and features impact the behavior and outlook of everyone from students to faculty to staff.

As expressed, my exposure to the U.S. academic system gained me a deeper understanding of the most practical studying tips in the university. The learning environment and conditions are making it easier as well as comfortable for students’ academic fulfillment, it encourages them to learn more, do more, and achieve more. It is helping students to reach their highest potential, to grow them academically and professionally, and qualifies them to a bright future.

Written by Hasna El Asri (Morocco), Global UGRAD 2017-2018, Saginaw Valley State University