American Education System
The University of Dayton offers undergraduate students a liberal arts education which introduces all students to a wide range of disciplines. Generally, a portion of your classes will be dedicated to fulfilling a group of core requirements, which are meant to increase your awareness of the diversity of intellectual thought and theory represented by the sciences, humanities and social sciences. To achieve this awareness, the University requires undergraduate students to complete courses in five domains of knowledge: arts study, historical study, philosophy and religious studies, physical and life sciences and social studies.
Through this structure, you will experience learning as an ongoing process of questioning, searching, probing and exploring. This type of education requires active engagement in the process of learning through reading, writing, discussion, debate and analysis. It also requires significant interaction with fellow students and professors.
Upon graduation you will have depth of knowledge in you major and breadth of knowledge in many related subjects that give you a broader understanding of the world around you and your place in it. Also, graduates of a liberal arts education are often better written and verbal communicators, better able to understand how things interrelate, and better able to learn new things on the job.
Adjusting to the U.S. American Classroom
As an international student, you may find that you need to make some adjustments when beginning your studies in the United States. In the U.S., students usually have a large amount of work to do for the courses they take, including reading, written assignments, and in many fields, laboratory or other practical work, throughout the term. You should begin studying at the beginning of the semester, rather than waiting until the end to study for final examinations.
In American undergraduate and graduate classes, students are usually expected to speak up in class, offering opinions or raising questions. Students and professors usually treat each other informally. For example, students sometimes call a professor by his or her first name, when the professor prefers it.
To succeed in your undergraduate or graduate studies, consider these tips:
- Know how your grade will be determined. Professors will usually tell you in the first class how your course grade will be determined. Different professors determine this final grade in different ways. Be sure you understand how the final grade will be determined. If you are unsure, ask the professor to clarify this for you.
- Read through the syllabus for each class. A syllabus is a learning agreement between you and your professor. It outlines the expectations of the course, readings for the semester, the assignments you are expected to complete, deadlines for assignments, and dates of major tests and exams.
- Learn time management. Schedule your time carefully to make sure you have enough time to complete assignments by the dates on which they are due.
- Study throughout the semester. Exams will likely be given throughout the semester rather than having one large exam at the end of the year. It is estimated that students should study two to three hours for every hour spent in class. Students who are still learning English as a second language may find more study time necessary.
- Ask questions. Ask your professor for help if you have questions or want to discuss classroom material further. Most professors have scheduled office hours and may be willing to make an appointment with you. If you have a scheduled appointment, it is important that you arrive on time.
- Class attendance is critical.
- Look for the main points when studying. Analyze material from your courses and make your own judgments about the material.
- Think up your own ideas. A liberal arts education prioritizes integrating different subjects, so combine the material from your different classes to see how they fit together. Use the information to produce your own ideas, evaluations and opinions.
- Actively participate in class. The U.S. classroom is a place to share ideas and opinions, and ask questions of your professor and your classmates.