Indo-US: Comparing Education, Lifestyle, and much more….

  • Quality of Education:

Quality of education at USA is the most sought after due to its academic excellence, cutting-edge technology, and extensive support services for students. USA has been and continues to be a popular destination for higher studies given the unique curriculum, state-of-the-art facilities and flexibility in choosing subjects. For instance, a student at Yale School of management pursuing a MBA degree can choose electives such as ‘Native American Art and Architecture’ and ‘Environmental Politics’. On the other hand, students in India always complain about the need to ram and mug up for examinations. The reason behind this is that education in India focuses on theoretical expertise. The coursework offered in Indian universities is highly streamlined and concentrated to the field chosen. This kind of coursework is great for students who wish to develop expertise in a single general subject. India may not compare with the kind of facilities offered by universities in USA, but it offers value-for-money quality higher education to students.

  • Resources: Study material, Lab equipment, Internet facilities etc.

Resources available to students at an education institute are the first on the list of ‘must-have’ for a university. It almost defeats the purpose of imparting education if the resources available to the students are below-par or worse, non-existent. One primary reason why most of the STEM (Science Tech Engineering Math) students choose to study abroad is the kind of resources that a university in USA offers to the students. The state-of-the-art facilities are rarely available in India and even if they are, they are concentrated in some of the top universities only. On the contrary, the quality of resources offered in USA is one of the pillars of US education and is considered so in almost every university in USA; therefore, one will hardly find a school which doesn’t comply with the global standards of quality of educational resources at US universities.

  • Teaching techniques and grading:

The teaching style and techniques differ in India and USA. Professors in USA generally encourage one-to-one interactions with students. Due to smaller class size, professors are able to pay attention to each student and his/her needs. Having said that, the initiative and effort must come from the student since US education system doesn’t believe in spoon-feeding as can be seen in India. India’s universities are characterised by huge classrooms and terrible student to teacher ratios which make focused teaching almost impossible in most universities in India. While we do see a change coming about with teacher adopting technology integrated methods of teaching, India has a long way to go.

The grading system and GPA in the U.S. is also different from the grading system in India, Most universities in the USA use letter grades (A, B, C, D and E/F, with A indicating excellent, and F indicating failing) and grade point average (GPA). Under GPA each letter grade is assigned a number and is averaged to get a number on a scale of 0-4. These grades are awarded on a holistic range of factors and projects and extra-curricular activities are assigned equal weights as academic subjects while calculating GPA.

  • Social life and cultural differences:

For an international student in USA, the first introduction to social life on campus will most likely be the Orientation Program. These are not mere formal programs organised for students but an initiation to education and life in USA. USA embodies values such as individuality, independence, equality and work ethic, values which may be different from the home countries of international students. India, on the other hand is conservative and close-knit; therefore it is imperative for students to develop intercultural competence to survive and thrive in USA. One may still find similarities in the education system between the two countries, but cultural differences are extremely apparent. On Independence Day in India one may watch the parade or fly kites or just sleep away to glory; however, in USA it’s generally about pool parties, barbecues and beer. Instead of cricket, one will find majority of students following basketball or soccer. Americans highly value their personal space in public and view any sort of encroachment as invasion of their personal space. As an Indian, one will also find an obsession with hygiene among Americans. One would find anti-bacterial wipes and bottles everywhere. Food preference are starkly different too, Vada pav and samosas are replaced with hot dogs and bagels and cutting chai with beer or coffee. From the way traffic rules are followed to drinking being allowed to adults, USA and India differ a great deal in culture and social life.