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From darkness to light

From darkness to light

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Enthused by his experience at New York University, ACHUTH KRISHNAN SREEDEVI writes about what is special about a U.S. education.

The education system in the U.S. is vastly different from that in India, and I’ll point out a couple of major differences. What I would like to celebrate, perhaps, is the freedom of choice offered to students. Each student will have his/her own preference, likes and interests, in various areas of study. The student is given the privilege of choosing the course, the professors and, to some extent, the class timings. This has two advantages: first, the students get to study courses that are of interest to them. This directly and positively motivates their engagement in the class and in turn their performance. Second, it empowers the students and creates a sense of responsibility in them. It also puts the onus of performance on them and encourages them to work hard.






Secondly, I found the curriculum and exams to be very practical and sensible. One is given hands-on and theoretical knowledge, provided with abundant resources and given insight into the latest technology, by professors who are engaged in doing in-depth research in the field. This makes a huge difference to the quality of knowledge one gets to possess and increases one’s knowledge base in the subject many times. The exams are almost never a test of how much ink a student can afford to spare, or his/her skill in planning strategically by going through previous years’ question papers or how much he/she can memorise or learn by rote. Most exams even allow cheat sheets in which one can write down the formulae and such other information which would otherwise have to be remembered. Lastly, let me mention the shock usually felt by the vast majority of Indian students who have survived, and in certain cases even excelled, with ‘last-minute studying’ in the Indian universities. It doesn’t work here! The education system is built to engage you throughout the semester and you are graded for your consistent and steady performance. While this might seem depressing to some, it came as a long overdue wake-up call for me. While all these factors are in complete favour of the education system of America, it has to be admitted that its lack of affordability looms large and grey. One of the former Presidents of U.S.A., Lyndon B Johnson, said “Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning must offer an escape from poverty.” The first part of the sentence might be true for the Americans but not so for the international students.

Whether to study in America or not, may be a question one has to weigh carefully before heading for it, but never let there be a question of whether to study or not, for as Allan Bloom has said, “Education is the movement from darkness to light” and to light everyone certainly has a claim.

The writer is a student of M.S., Computer Science, at New York University.

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