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Much and more has been said about the cost of tuition in America as compared to Europe. American soon-to-be-students beg for lower prices and fear life-long student loans. However, this is not everything that distinguishes European education from American. There are other things as well, and they should be carefully weighed up when choosing a university to enroll in.
The general rule is that European universities are cheaper, and consequently they get less funding. Therefore, it impacts the quality, or it is better to say the diligence of education. While in America a small classroom with 30 students is a common thing to see, in Europe people are used to sitting in large halls with hundreds of fellow students and professors who deliver their lectures with slight nonchalance. Of course, it does not happen all the time, but definitely is more common in Europe, than in America.
Less funding has other consequences, as well. Although richly supplied with books, European libraries often lose in technology, and many of them still rely on old non-computerized systems. Their American counterparts, however, might lack materials but never lack hi-tech.
One of the obvious differences between American and European education is the work load. While Americans have to write plenty of essays, pass examinations, make presentations and all of this at the same time, French, German and English students can enjoy more free time and less strains. In other words, if you want to study and have a life, move to Europe (or stay in Europe)! 🙂 And if hectic lifestyle is what you are looking for, America is waiting.
This American approach then spreads to the work life of people, as they go to 7 a.m. business meetings and work crazy late hours.
Probably the main difference is the general approach. While American universities take many zeros in tuition (See: The US Education Becomes An Overpaid Luxury?), they feel obliged to give proper academic load and squeeze the most of every studying hour, even if it means running the student down. European educational establishments do not feel this financial guilt and thus can be more relaxed. Main purpose of American education is to create a competent specialist while Europeans seek to develop personality of the student.
Another thing to consider – in many European countries standardized testing is taken at an early age. The controversy is obvious: while evaluating young kids, the test already defines their future chances of making it to the university (for instance, Citotoets in the Netherlands). American approach in this regard is a bit less harsh and gives a better chance to get into law school even if you did badly in your SAT’s.
All in all, both systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is impossible to define which is better – only which is more suitable for your needs.