Academic environment in American universities


Posted: Posted Date – 11:13 PM, Sat – Mar 5, 22

When registering for the program, each student is assigned an academic advisor.

In our series of special topics on the American higher education system, today we share with our readers the academic environment in American colleges and universities.

Among the key attributes of American higher education institutions are applied and practice-oriented teaching systems, student-centered pedagogy, academic integrity, continuous assessment, and participatory learning methods.

When registering for the program, each student is assigned an academic advisor. Students can discuss their major/minor or specialization, course selection and registration, area of ​​research (for research-oriented degree programs), and other program requirements with their advisor. It is important that students stay in regular contact with their advisor during their course of study.

Although sometimes the department registers students for courses, most of the time the selection and registration for course work is the responsibility of the student. Students must carefully select courses and a certain number of credit hours for each semester to ensure that they take enough courses to maintain their “full-time” enrollment status. Given the practice-based approach to learning, each course requires substantial input and effort from the student. Thus, students must balance the number of credits they choose in a semester, as enrolling in too many courses may not be advisable. Additionally, depending on the courses offered in a particular semester, students may choose a mix of introductory and advanced courses.

In the classroom setting, students should be at the center of learning, where they take responsibility for regularly attending class, contributing to class discussion, turning in homework on time, and asking questions. appropriate questions. Course instructors share the syllabus for their respective course, along with the lesson plan, required/optional readings and textbooks, at the beginning of the semester. On-campus libraries may not have multiple copies of textbooks, so students may need to purchase new or used books, depending on course requirements and price. The university bookstore, outside bookstores, and online stores are a few places where students can buy books.

Last but not least, US higher education institutions are extremely strict about their honor code/code of conduct. All students are expected to follow university guidelines regarding academic integrity/honesty, cheating, and plagiarism. Students should visit their college/university website to read the honor code carefully before starting their programs.

Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Advisor to the United States-India Educational Foundation based at the US Consulate General, Hyderabad. Please visit for more information)

Questions and answers :

Q1. What is the admissions and application system for community colleges in the United States? —Niyati

A. Community colleges in the United States operate an “open” admissions policy. This means that anyone wishing to register and who meets the minimum admission requirements can do so. Each institution will have its own set of admission requirements, but the minimum generally includes the following:

• Completed application form
• Proof of high school completion, usually 12 years of schooling
• Certification of English proficiency – TOEFL or IELTS
• Proof of financial support

The English proficiency requirement may be lower for a community college than for a four-year institution. Additionally, if a student’s score falls slightly below the admission criteria, the community college may still admit the student to the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Successful completion of all prescribed ESL courses will open the door to the wider academic world of community college.

Students should contact the two-year college admissions office to request information on international admissions. Many community colleges have websites with downloadable or online applications. To search for community colleges, students can visit the American Association of Community Colleges website ( or search and nces university browser.

Q. I am applying for doctoral programs in the United States. Who do I get my letters of recommendation from? –Ashwin

A. Although requirements for Letters of Recommendation (LOR) may vary by program/university, the letter can usually be from an academic (teachers/professors) or professional contact (supervisor/project manager /clients). Professional contacts are particularly relevant for candidates who have some professional experience. Some universities require at least one or two of the three Academic Contact LORs. Applicants should carefully read the reference letter instructions for shortlisted universities before deciding who to take their letters from.

When choosing their recommenders, applicants should keep in mind that the recommender must know them very well. If you are applying for a doctoral program right after your bachelor’s program, you can choose one or two professors who taught you a course as well as the advisor you worked with on your project work. If you are pursuing or have just completed a master’s degree, your thesis guide will be an ideal recommender, as well as professors from the bachelor’s or master’s program who have taught you relevant courses. For working professionals, depending on university requirements, applicants may take one professional recommendation and two academic recommendations.

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