Under the microscope: a student’s perspective

I’ve come to realize a lot about how others view America and how I perceive my place in that culture. Especially, in our education system.

There are a lot of systems in place at Victoria University that I like but, I must critique the university also. I have had many classes that overlap, and I have been only enrolled in lectures, and not tutorials (you must be enrolled in a lecture and tutorial per class). Least to say, I find it highly disorganized, and I find there to be a lack of communication within and between departments. Now, back at New Paltz, the system we have would not even allow you to sign up for a class if you are enrolled in another class that is over-lapping; this system is thought out. Victoria University, in whole, is immensely different from my home university. Perhaps, universities throughout Australia are like this also? I am used to a very competitive, cut-throat environment, that really wants only the best to succeed. And, I’ve become comfortable with this environment, not questioning it often. I am used to having a slight inferiority complex back home; this could be slightly due to my confidence level. There is not a focus on teamwork, but only on getting ahead. It’s a unhealthy environment, and one that is in the least way progressive. Though, our educational standards are extremely high, and I think that reflects in our developments, and awards/recognition Americans have won.

Victoria University, and perhaps the whole Australian education system, focuses more on teamwork. Creating an inviting environment that encourages students to share with one another. I see this through the implementation of lectures and tutorials. Lectures, are obviously lectured based where you have a tutor talking at you (little discussion). Afterwards, or a day later, you have your tutorial. The tutorial is student based; the students do the talking. In tutorials, you discuss the lecture material, and do activities to ensure you grasp the material. There is an emphasis on detail in the tutorials, and an inviting environment I am not (that) used to. I have a voice here, a loud voice for that matter. I’m constantly talking in classes, and I feel encouraged to do so; no one is trying to “one up” me.

 Evaluating a students abilities is almost solely based on standardized tests in the States. Testing is almost virtually non-existent here. Which, I believe is so progressive! Vic Uni puts an emphasis on critical evaluation papers, debates, and group projects. Again, students have a voice here. It is not about regurgitating material, but seeing how well you understand, can reflect, and interpret the subject matter. Though, I do see this at universities back home, exams are more of a priority. This I believe is a huge part of our culture; survival of the fittest. Universities pride themselves on how selective they are, and students like differentiating themselves from others. Teamwork needs to be more of a provocative, and whether it is in our curriculum or not, the view students have on teamwork is not one that is favored (example: group projects/ presentations). I think it would be highly beneficial for the States to take a harder look at it’s testing-model, and begin to put a stronger emphasis on teamwork.

So as I get deeper into the inner workings of the education system here, and every system for that matter (political, economic, etc.) I start to realize even more the disparities within my home country, and the progress we have yet to make. We need to change the cut-throat culture of America to one that is supportive and collaborative. 

Hi! My name is Brianne, and I am a Junior at SUNY New Paltz. I'm a Psychology major, with a minor in Evolutionary Studies and Disaster Studies. I am studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia and I'm stoked to share my experiences while there :)

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