Wednesday, June 29, 2011

American Colleges v English Universities Part II of II

USA: Many colleges have Greek life consisting of fraternities and sororities.
England: Greek life is nonexistent but there is cross over between male fraternities and sport societies.
Verdict: Watch Animal House and decide for yourself.

USA: Students pay for living expenses through family savings and employment.
England: Most students pay for living expenses through maintenance loans that begin being paid back when their annual income reaches £15,000
Verdict: English students leave university with more living expenses debt.

USA: Students pay for tuition and fees with a combination of family savings, grants, loans, employment, financial aid, and scholarships.
England: Students pay for university the same way as Americans except loans are more common and financial aid and scholarships are very rare.
Verdict: US wins because financial aid and scholarships are amazing.

USA: Most students live on campus in dorms, suites, apartments, or Greek houses.
England: University accommodation consists of flats, and students can only live in university accommodation for their first year. 2nd and 3rd year students live in off campus houses or flats.
Verdict: England wins, because students always have a kitchen. Also, university flats provide individual rooms unlike dorms, and living in a house or flat during 2nd and 3rd year beats living in a dorm or a suite to a pulp.

USA: Optional summer classes are offered and are usually taken in order to get ahead in one’s degree or because four years is not long enough to fit in all required classes.
England: Following a month-long spring break, which students are supposed to dedicate to studying for exams and to writing essays, university requires students to attend a summer term dedicated to turning in all the essays to taking all the exams prepared during the month-long spring break.
Verdict: US wins by shoving all essays and exams into the semester, effectively clumping all the stress together and getting the term over with.

USA: Law and medicine degrees are not offered at the undergraduate level.
England: Law and medicine degrees are offered at the undergraduate level.
Verdict: England wins, because in the US by the time you graduate from medical or law school, you are balding and being threatened by debtors’ prisons.

USA: Students are assessed multiple times throughout the semester through homework, quizzes, tests, essays, and exams.
England: Students are assessed 1-4 times (usually just 2 times) throughout the term with the majority of the final mark deriving from a final exam or essay.
Verdict: England wins with a lighter workload, but you are screwed if you mess up that final exam or essay. US wins with keeping students on their game and by spreading the weight of the final mark over many assignments.

USA: Many colleges require freshmen to take a writing class in order to learn how to properly write varies types of essays at the undergraduate level.
England: No writing class requirement.
Verdict: Depends if you like to write or wish you had learned.

USA: Students choose a major, which is the degree that they choose to pursue. A minor is equivalent to half of a major. Students can pursue multiple majors and minors. Pursuing two majors is called double majoring, and the student must take all the classes for both majors.
England: Students choose a single-honor, which is the degree that they choose to pursue. Minors do not exist. If a student wants to pursue two subjects, then he/she can pursue a joint-honor. The joint-honor student takes the same number of classes as the single-honor student with half of those classes deriving from one subject and the other half deriving from another subject. Therefore, the English joint-honor is equivalent to two American minors but is the English option of the American double major.
Verdict: England wins on lighter workload. US wins on freedom of choice.

USA: Guided learning philosophy
England: Independent learning philosophy
Verdict: US wins because independent learning is like communism, sounds good but doesn’t work. Given more free time, students are going to party, not research.

USA: Requires that all students take general education (gen ed) classes, which are classes required from every discipline that provide students with a broad knowledge base. These gen eds are taken in addition to a student’s major(s) and minor(s) classes.
England: Students are required and allowed to take only one class outside their degree during their 1st or 2nd year. This class is called a MOMD [Module Outside Main Discipline].
Verdict: England wins on focus. US wins on well roundedness.

USA: Undergraduates are marked on a 0-100 scale with 90-100 being a 4.0 (an English 1st) and 69 and below being failing.
England: Undergraduates marked on a 0-85 scale with 70 being a 1st (an American 4.0) and 40 and below being failing.
Verdict: Just different.

America: Wear graduation gowns and throw caps into the air.
England: Wear graduation gowns and throw caps into the air.
Verdict: We both wear ridiculous outfits on graduation day. I’ve never figured out if throwing the hats is an act of celebration (Hooray! I earned this degree and survived!) or panic (Oh, cruel real world! Don’t take me away! What am I supposed to do with my life?!)

American Colleges v English Universities Part I of II

Hello! I am Anna Rose MacArthur, a rising senior Theatre and English double-major at BSC. For both semesters of my junior year, I studied theatre abroad at the University of Birmingham, England, and I have been asked to blog about some of my experiences here. Before I launch into my tale, it will help if you understand some of the differences between the American college and the English university system. 

American Colleges v English Universities Part I of II

USA: Undergraduate institutions are called colleges. Postgraduate institutions are called universities.
England: Undergraduate and postgraduate institutions are called universities. College is where students take their A-levels.
Verdict: It is what it is.

USA: Contains over 4,000 higher education institutions
England: Contains 131 higher education institutions
Verdict: With England being 74 times smaller than the US and having ¼ the population of the US, England wins with a larger ratio of institutions to size and population.

USA: Prospective students can apply to as many colleges as they desire and as they can afford. Each college charges a different application fee.
England: Prospective students can apply to a maximum of five universities. No application fees.
Verdict: England wins on cost. US wins on freedom of choice.

USA: College usually lasts 4 years, but can range from 3 to 5 years with students on average taking 32-40 classes during that time.
England: University strictly lasts 3 years with students taking 15-18 classes during that time.
Verdict: England wins on less time and less work. US wins on demanding more from students.

USA: 1st years called freshmen. 2nd years called sophomores. 3rd years called juniors. 4th years called seniors. 5th years called super-seniors.
England: 1st years called 1st years or freshers. 2nd years called 2nd years. 3rd years called 3rd years.
Verdict: USA wins on creativity. England wins on clarity.

USA: Classes meet 2 to 3 times a week.
England: Classes mostly meet 1 time a week with a few classes meeting 2 times a week.
Verdict: England wins if you don’t like going to class. US wins on face time.

USA: Every class taken throughout college is weighted equally in the final mark aka GPA.
England: First year does not count towards the final mark, but students must pass with 40% in order to move onto second year. Second year counts 25% towards the final mark. 3rd years counts 75% towards the final mark.
Verdict: It is as though England know that students are going to behave like debaucherous lunatics during first year and accommodate them accordingly.

USA: Apart from specific upper level classes, students from all years take the same classes.
England: First years only take classes with first years; and second years only with second years; and third years only with third years.
Verdict: England wins on all students being on the same academic level. US wins on combining students from different backgrounds, allowing for more knowledge and intellectual diversity in the classroom.

USA: Each college decides their costs of tuition and fees, which include little government subsidy. College costs between $25,000 to $50,000 per year.
England: Government subsidizes and caps university costs, and almost all universities charge up to the permitted cap. University costs £3,000 per year currently, and due to government budget cuts, university costs will rise to £9,000 per year beginning September 2012.
Verdict: Despite budget cuts, attending an English university is significantly cheaper than attending a US college.

USA: Students can transfer colleges with most of their credits transferring as well. Also, students can easily switch degrees if done during the first two years.
England: Students can transfer universities after year 1 and enter year 2 at a different university. If they change their degree, then have to start as a first year again, because their degree courses are so focused.
Verdict: Just different.

Gap year— the year between finishing high school and beginning college (or the year between finishing A-levels and beginning university for the English) in which students take a hiatus from school to travel, work, and/or volunteer.
USA: Gap years are rare and even looked down upon.
England: Gap years are a common and legitimate option.
Verdict: England wins. US fails and needs to embrace this concept.

Quad at University of Birmingham, UK Where I Studied Abroad

Quad at BSC

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Intern :)

Summer vacation? Hah. I'd rather spend my summer working at Red Mountain Theatre Company.

As summer was approaching, I knew I wanted a change of scenery and a break from the "school" setting; yet I still wanted to be completely immersed in theatre.... as per usual. So I signed myself up for interning at Red Mountain Theatre Company, a local professional, non-profit theatre in Birmingham. I had worked with RMTC as a kids several times, and thought why not! I figured I would be doing typical intern duties (i.e. coffee runs, cleaning jobs no one wants to do, and running errands everywhere) but boy was I in for a surprise. While I am still making the coffee runs, and cleaning grimy closets no one has touched in years, I am also getting to experience first-hand how a professional company runs, operates, and produces it's shows.

I feel like I have already learned so much. Just to touch everything here are some of the things I've gotten to take part in.... season auditions, ticket sales, marketing and advertising, event planning, development and non-profits, workshop performances, and rehearsals.... just to name a few. A lot of my work has also been focused on their summer workshops (summer camps provided for youth which include instructors from all over the U.S. for training in dance, theatre, music... etc.) I have also gotten to witness the production build, concepts, and ideas for their upcoming production of HAIRSPRAY. Watching how production meetings are held is so interesting because it really shows how all the different areas come together to produce this show.

The season auditions and workshop performances have probably been the highlight of my time at RMTC. It is so interesting to learn all of the steps to run an audition and how much has to be done before they even take place. Every single detail and step is important, and now more than ever I see how important it is that everyone does their part in order for a smooth event.

This experience is letting me see a completely different side of the theatre than I have seen before; yet I relate everything I have done at BSC to what I see being done at RMTC. Cheesy as it sounds... it really makes me appreciate and understand why everything I'm learning at BSC is so important.

So in the midst of endless ticket sales, the forever broken copier, and scripts, scripts, and more scripts I am going to keep you updated about my time at RMTC and all that I am getting to learn.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer :)