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1. Courses vs. Majors

In the US, you have a choice of majors and minors. Majors and minors are subjects that you want to specialise in. US colleges and universities also require you to have what is known as ‘general educational units’. UK universities have you apply for one specific course and that course focuses on an area of study. When my friends were studying for a BA (Hons) Tourism Management, all their units centred around the main subject areas of study, for example, tourism, management, and business strategies.

There are pros and cons for each system. The US method lets you explore different fields of study to gain a broader sense of knowledge. The UK system lets you focus your study on a specific course and allows you spend three to four years mastering that field of study.

2. Terms vs. Semester

In the US, the semester begins at the end of August/early September and ends before Christmas. In the UK, classes end before the holidays, but you are expected to take exams mid to end of January for those classes. The US semester gives you a six week break to relax after exams or even take winter semester classes. The UK term gives you those weeks to study for your exams. Take some time to yourself for the holidays but as soon as the New Year begins, hit the books. Trust me, it’ll save you a lot of anxiety and late nights!

3. Grading system

The grading system in the UK is quite different that of the US. I remember one of the first presentations I went to during orientation week explained how the UK grading system worked. I thought to myself that earning a distinction would be a piece of cake because it was 70% or higher. Boy was I wrong! That distinction took a lot of hard work, sweat, and quite a few tears if I’m being honest. While in the US, a 60% would be a barely passing grade of a D-, the UK considers this to be a merit, which is very good. This translates to very few people making grades above 90% in the UK.

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