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#1
Could someone who attends university or college in the United States explain to me how their course is structured?

Here in The Kingdom, you choose a course when applying to a university, and then everything you study is directly related to the course. If you apply for a Chemistry course, then you will only study Chemistry for 4 years.

I'm told that it's different in the US, that you still have to study languages, maths, science, history and other subjects regardless of what course you applied for.

At what point do you specialise in a particular subject, if at all?
What is "majoring"?
Do you still have to do other subjects which are not related to your major?

I know these are pretty stupid questions but I have no-one else to ask.
#2
It's much different. You'll have graduation requirements that will entail a lot of Chemistry (for a BS in chem), but you'll still have lots of general education requirements, like philosophy and language and creative dimensions and writing etc. Majoring is just what degree you leave with.
#3
First year or so is Liberal Studies, where you have a variety of requirements such as Math, Science, English, whatever. The first year you can take whatever classes you want that fufill your requirements, later once you choose your major (lets say Psychology), you will have a certain amount of credit hours, maybe around 60, that you will need for that degree. Each regular class consists of 3 credit hours, and while there are required courses and such, you are pretty free to choose the ones you feel like taking if given the option.
#4
What's the reasoning behind that?

Surely you get taught all the other stuff in high school so you can concentrate on the one subject?
#6
Quote by sashki
If you apply for a Chemistry course, then you will only study Chemistry for 4 years.


Wut.

Im doing Chemistry in september. Only 1/3 of my classes will be to do with chemistry.
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#8
Quote by _me_
Wut.

Im doing Chemistry in september. Only 1/3 of my classes will be to do with chemistry.

Wut.

I'm 2 years into Electrical Engineering, and all my classes are directly related. Haven't done any history, literature, philosophy etc. Maybe it's different in Scotland.
Quote by Alexander_BR
First year or so is Liberal Studies, where you have a variety of requirements such as Math, Science, English, whatever. The first year you can take whatever classes you want that fufill your requirements, later once you choose your major (lets say Psychology), you will have a certain amount of credit hours, maybe around 60, that you will need for that degree. Each regular class consists of 3 credit hours, and while there are required courses and such, you are pretty free to choose the ones you feel like taking if given the option.

So, if you major in Psychology, you still have to do all the other subjects, but you have Psychology classes more often than in other subjects?
Last edited by sashki at May 11, 2011,
#9
Quote by _me_
Wut.

Im doing Chemistry in september. Only 1/3 of my classes will be to do with chemistry.


in ireland you specialise as you progress.im doing pharmaceutical and biomedical chem and i took chem,bio,maths and mathematical physics in 1st year,bio maths and chem in 2nd and chem and bio for 3rd and 4th year
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#10
Quote by captaincrunk
To make you a more rounded and better educated person.


Yea but surely you can't go into as much detail on a specific subject if you are spending time on other things?

I'm not saying it's stupid i'm just genuinely interested as it's the first I've heard of this.
#11
Yeah, well universities in the US suck in that matter, but it actually depends on where you go.
My sister went for chemical engineering, she has not had to take a single course that isn't related to her major.
I, however, go to a different university where I'm forced to take bullshit "general education" course.
As if that isn't what all of high school was about.
#12
Quote by Greenie_777
Yea but surely you can't go into as much detail on a specific subject if you are spending time on other things?

I'm not saying it's stupid i'm just genuinely interested as it's the first I've heard of this.


I also find this strange. It's like you aren't becoming as good as you could be on your chosen major.
#13
Quote by sashki
Wut.

I'm 2 years into Electrical Engineering, and all my classes are directly related. Haven't done any history, literature, philosophy etc. Maybe it's different in Scotland.

So, if you major in Psychology, you still have to do all the other subjects, but you have Psychology classes more often than in other subjects?


No, the normal curriculum would be doing any Liberal Studies the first year, and then being free to do whatever you want (which would mean getting a major in psychology, probably a double major or with a minor).

First year just finished for me, I got a lot of credit exemptions from AP Exams (33 credit hours) so I had a lot of liberty. I finished all the liberal studies and managed to get a minor in Psychology.

Quote by Greenie_777
Yea but surely you can't go into as much detail on a specific subject if you are spending time on other things?

I'm not saying it's stupid i'm just genuinely interested as it's the first I've heard of this.


It's normally just for the first year. Later they specialize in whatever they want.
#14
Quote by sashki
Wut.

I'm 2 years into Electrical Engineering, and all my classes are directly related. Haven't done any history, literature, philosophy etc.


I have to take three classes. Chemistry, maths and the third can be whatever I want. Don't actually specialise in chemistry untill year three.

Quote by sashki
Maybe it's different in Scotland.


Then why put "here in the kingdom?"
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#16
Your major is your area of specialization and primary focus. You take advanced courses that go in depth on your primary focus.

But along the way, you also have to take bullshit general courses like writing, math, etc.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#17
Quote by Greenie_777
Yea but surely you can't go into as much detail on a specific subject if you are spending time on other things?

The students are expected to keep up anyway. It works generally well. It isn't like you're forced to take extremely hard sociology classes if you're a chem major. You get to pick for the most part.
Quote by Alexander_BR
It's normally just for the first year. Later they specialize in whatever they want.

But there's often not a specific structure to it. I took my health gen ed course just this past semester and I'm in my third year.
Last edited by captaincrunk at May 11, 2011,
#18
This may be a silly question but do you go to college straight from high school?

Just wondering as it seems these extra classes would be the equivelant to our A levels.
#19
Quote by Greenie_777
This may be a silly question but do you go to college straight from high school?

Generally yes. 17/18 year olds are generally going to be the freshman next year, when they're 18/19 year olds. It gives people some flexibility in choosing what they want to study. And you won't cripple yourself by changing majors your junior year, because so many classes will be compatible with multiple degrees.
#20
Quote by Greenie_777
This may be a silly question but do you go to college straight from high school?

Just wondering as it seems these extra classes would be the equivelant to our A levels.


Yeah we graduate and the next semester we are at University.

But in the USA, we get a lot of AP Classes (like the IB program). So the average person who gets into college nowadays doesnt have to do all the requirements because they have gained credit already in High School.
#21
Quote by Greenie_777
This may be a silly question but do you go to college straight from high school?

Most people do. You don't have to though.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#22
Quote by Greenie_777
What's the reasoning behind that?

Surely you get taught all the other stuff in high school so you can concentrate on the one subject?



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_arts

That's the reasoning. It's a pretty long-standing tradition in one shape or another.
The general studies classes are still more intense and in-depth than those you'd have in high school. Some are light or silly, sure, but students can get a lot out of most of them.

Most college (seems like we're all already on the same page that in the US college and uni are the same thing right?) freshmen will have a declared major, so they'll already take a more specified set of courses even while taking general studies courses. For example, I wanted to study poli sci when I started, so I took about four political science classes my first year in addition to economics, english, history, etc. (By the last two years of a bachelor's, most US students will only be taking classes in their field(s).)

Part of the benefit, I think, is that you have a decided general direction, so those other classes let you apply their ideas to your specific course of study--you think about economics in regard to political science, or you think about speech in regards to campaigning and political figures, etc. It's a broader type of education that lets students make their own connections to larger ideas even while focusing in on the specific learning of their field.

A lot of college students here switch their majors throughout their coursework, I ended up minoring in poli sci and majoring in English--again, that combination let me draw my own connections: I think about communication as both the means to an end and part of the process for how things get done because I was studying politics while learning about writing.

Even a student who switches or goes in with a vague idea about what she wants to study gets some focus by, for example picking a BA or BS degree--one would require foreign language proficiency, while the other would require an understanding of statistics and research methods, you might switch majors down the road, but chances are (because of people's natural inclinations) that you'd probably stick to the same side you've already been honing in on.

edit* and there are a lot of trades that don't require a liberal arts education. Lots of people get two year degrees focused on mechanics, electical/plumbing/tradeswork, nursing, business, etc. It's just most four year colleges in the US use a liberal arts system for bachelors (4 year) degrees.
Last edited by dullsilver_mike at May 11, 2011,
#23
Am I the only one who thinks liberal arts is a waste of time and money? I mean, I see how it can be beneficial for people who are still deciding but for someone like me who's already decided, I'm bitter that it took up so much of what I could have done instead.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at May 11, 2011,
#24
Quote by captaincrunk
To make you a more rounded and better educated person.

As well as that high school is one year shorter than counterparts in for instance United Kingdom and Norway.
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#25
Quote by Xiaoxi
Am I the only one who thinks liberal arts is a waste of time and money?



Lots of people think that. Liberal arts aren't for everyone, but I think they greatly benefit a lot of professions and people even while they aren't that useful to others.

edit* what are you studying?
Last edited by dullsilver_mike at May 11, 2011,
#26
You have to study a little bit of everything, unless you go to a technical school which specializes in one field such as a Cooking School or an Engineering Institute.
#27
Quote by Xiaoxi
Am I the only one who thinks liberal arts is a waste of time and money? I mean, I see how it can be beneficial for people who are still deciding but for someone like me who's already decided, I'm bitter that it took up so much of what I could have done instead.

You'd likely be less interesting if you hadn't taken liberal arts classes, at the very least.
#28
I'd only consider it a waste if you are lazy about it and just do bland classes for an easy A (such as bio for non majors, you did that in high school). I took Intro to Film, Science of Nutrition, Astronomy and Ancient Mythology as LS requirements, and I really learned a lot from each one.
#30
Quote by dullsilver_mike

Interesting.

I think that trivium concept should be applied to the public school system. Grammar and logic I actually feel are missing from the current curriculum.
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#31
Quote by dullsilver_mike
Lots of people think that. Liberal arts aren't for everyone, but I think they greatly benefit a lot of professions and people even while they aren't that useful to others.

edit* what are you studying?

I'm studying music composition and film scoring, which involves a lot of technical details on both music and technology. There are so many electives within these two majors that I'd kill to take because they provide very specific skills that I need to be a better asset. But now I can't because my time and credits are limited and I'm on a very tight grid to cover my remaining requirements, thanks to all the bullshit classes like history and globalism I had to sit through earlier.

Quote by captaincrunk
You'd likely be less interesting if you hadn't taken liberal arts classes, at the very least.

I don't see how LA does anything more than impart marginal knowledge on you.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at May 11, 2011,
#32
Quote by _me_

Then why put "here in the kingdom?"

Sorry, I didn't know it was that different.
A few of my friends from school are attending Scottish universities, and from what I've heard their courses are pretty specialised right from the beginning.
#33
Quote by sashki
Sorry, I didn't know it was that different.
A few of my friends from school are attending Scottish universities, and from what I've heard their courses are pretty specialised right from the beginning.


I don't know how it is for arts or social sciences, but I'm pretty sure that sciences are fairly loosely structured.
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#34
Not every school in the US forces you to take Liberal Arts courses, but unfortunately, mine does. It's really just a hassle in my opinion. These classes are generally very easy, don't have mandatory attendance, and I always end up trying to do as little as possible to get the best grade I can. I don't think my freshman year of liberal arts classes has improved me as a student, nor have I learned anything remotely close to my Marketing major. Oh well, I don't get to decide what my school's requirements are, so why bitch about it? It's just another thing I have to do to get that piece of paper at the end of the 4 years.
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#35
Quote by Gibson06
Not every school in the US forces you to take Liberal Arts courses, but unfortunately, mine does. It's really just a hassle in my opinion. These classes are generally very easy, don't have mandatory attendance, and I always end up trying to do as little as possible to get the best grade I can. I don't think my freshman year of liberal arts classes has improved me as a student, nor have I learned anything remotely close to my Marketing major. Oh well, I don't get to decide what my school's requirements are, so why bitch about it? It's just another thing I have to do to get that piece of paper at the end of the 4 years.

Well, the worst part is that most people don't care about your piece of paper when you get it. Most don't need to see it. So that's why it's such a rip off: not only does it not contribute to what you need to do, it deprives you of opportunity to learn what you really need to actually be valuable.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#36
Quote by Gibson06
Oh well, I don't get to decide what my school's requirements are, so why bitch about it?

The ridiculous price of tuition is why.
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#37
Quote by justinb904
The ridiculous price of tuition is why.

I actually have a full scholarship, books included, for being a student manager on our baseball team.


Game, blouses.
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#38
Quote by Gibson06
I actually have a full scholarship, books included, for being a student manager on our baseball team..

Good for you then. For those of us who are your average non-athletic middle class white males scholarships are few and far between.
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#39
Quote by justinb904
Good for you then. For those of us who are your average non-athletic middle class white males scholarships are few and far between.


I am completely non athletic. I take care of the field nigga
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