There are three main levels of higher education: undergraduate studies (bachelor’s degree), graduate studies (master’s degree) and postgraduate studies (doctor’s degree). The terms ‘college’ and ‘university’ are often used interchangeably as they have many things in common. Both offer undergraduate degrees in the arts and sciences, and both can help prepare young people to earn a living. But many colleges do not offer graduate studies. Another difference is that universities are generally bigger. They offer more programs and do more research. A college can also be a part of a university, e.g. Harvard College is the undergraduate part of Harvard University. Programs in higher learning can also be called schools, like a school of engineering or a medical school within a college or university. Another place of higher education, especially in technical areas, is an institute, like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Most academic years consist of two 15-week semesters. The academic year usually begins in August or September and finishes in May or June with a short “winter” break, usually in December or January. Most bachelor’s degrees consist of 120 credits. In theory courses, one credit is equal to 50 minutes of contact (time spent in class) per week for one semester. Most theory courses carry three or four credits each. Therefore, students should expect to be in class three times per week for 50 minutes each for a three-credit course. Most students take five courses for a total of 15 credits (each semester). In laboratory, practical or studio courses, one credit is equal to two to four 50 minutes of contact (class or lab time) per week for one semester. (abridged from http://www.justlanded.com/english/USA/USA-Guide/Education/Higher-Education); and E-journal USA, Society and Values: College and University Education in the United States, http://infousa.state.gov/education/overview/docs/ijse1105.pdf).
1. There are various types of institutions of higher learning in the United States. Which of the characteristics below describe each of the types given in the box? Write out the words and expressions which seem to be the most relevant to speak about the topic.
public universities specialty colleges liberal arts colleges
community colleges minority serving institutions private universities religiously affiliated colleges
1. They have a historical tradition or mandate to serve a specific demographic of student, but often serve non-minority students as well.
2. They are largely locally controlled and publicly funded. They offer studies leading to technical and semi-professional occupations, and studies which prepare students for entrance to a four-year degree institution.
3. They are closely identified with and supported by the states in which they are located.
4. They provide pre-professional training of four years or less for students who proceed to advanced professional schools, such as law or medicine, and offer a liberal education for students who don’t enter professional or graduate school.
5. They have a distinctive identity and mission rooted in a religious tradition.
6. They award an associate degree after two years’ study, e.g. Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS) degrees.
7. They enroll tens of thousands of students and produce the majority of graduate and professional degrees in the country as well as a significant number of undergraduate degrees.
8. They feature more focused curricula, not a broad range of studies; they specialize in distinct areas such as the fine and performing arts, business, or technological skills, or military training.
9. They occupy all but three or four of the top 25 slots in most rankings.
10. Three groups whose members fit into this category are Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC).
11. They cater to non-traditional students like part-timers, parents, and the already employed. They can also help gifted and purpose-driven students develop their talents and pursue their professional objectives.
12. They attempt to present both reason and faith as two distinct yet related components.
13. They generally enjoy greater financial flexibility as they do not depend on state legislatures for funding but draw their resources from alumni, philanthropic foundations, and scientific and other professional organizations.
14. Most of them have articulation agreements with four-year colleges and universities ensuring that credits earned will count toward the four-year degree program.
15. They charge, on average, $8,244 in tuition and fees for in-state students. The average surcharge for full-time out-of-state students at these institutions is $12,526 (in 2011-2012).
16. They are somewhat smaller than their public counterparts.
17. They are of different types – state colleges, public schools, community colleges, religiously affiliated colleges, liberal arts colleges.
18. They charge, on average, $28,500 per year in tuition and fees (in 2011-2012).
2. Match the words with their definitions.
8. general education
9. summer school
a) courses you can take in the summer at a school, university, or college (if you miss or fail a course and want to catch up)
b) all the teachers in a university
c) a long piece of writing about a particular subject that you do as part of an advanced university degree such as an MA or a PhD
d) the second main subject that you study at university for your degree
e) the former students of a school, college etc
f) courses in key areas of knowledge (e.g. math, science, composition, U.S. history or government, economics, foreign languages, etc), which are not program specific
g) a successfully completed part of a course at a university or college
h) an amount of money that is given to someone by an educational organization to help pay for their education
i) the main subject that a student studies at college or university or someone studying a particular subject as their main subject at college or university
j) a course that is required to be taken prior to the course that you want to enroll in
3. Fill in the gaps using the words from exercise 2.
1. The percentage of ________________, as compared to major courses, varies depending on the school and the major, but all institutions require some of them.
2. Legacy admissions are a long-standing tradition. Historically, private universities – especially the most selective ones – have used them to cultivate a sense of family continuity and to attract donations from _______, who are likely to donate more generously when they think their children might gain admission.
3. While ___________ for graduate students are less common, they are often very generous, as many target particular fields of study or are awarded by potential employers who want a better-educated employee base.
4. Nearly two-thirds of undergraduate students in the United States change __________ before graduating.
5. A __________, also called dissertation, is usually associated with postgraduate studies, i.e. research or taught Master’s degree or PhD level and is carried out under a supervision of a professor or an academic of the university.
6. Your ________ may also be important when it comes to applying to graduate school or other academic endeavors as it can show that you have additional skills and interests.
7. Both ______________ and students oppose the measures.
8. When a course has a ______________, the content assumes a specific skill level or knowledge base. This allows for course continuity.
9. The present-day definition misses the mark by equating __________ with time spent learning rather than with the learning outcomes.
10. ____________ has customarily been a time for thousands of students to gain ground on degrees or, if hampered by work and family duties, stay on track.
4. Listen to a short lecture about academic titles at American colleges and universities and make notes about the following positions. Then explain how they differ.
· assistant professor
· associate professor
· full professor
· visiting professor
· adjunct professor