Academic culture in the United States may be quite different, or quite similar, to what you are used to. U.S. classroom culture is very learner centered, rather than teacher centered. You may find that your academic experience is different in some of these ways:
- Engagement in Extracurricular Activities: In U.S. academic culture, extracurricular experiences are considered nearly as important a part of the student experience as your academic program. U.S. higher education places emphasis on developing not only academic/technical expertise, but also soft skills that will help students be more successful in their future lives and careers.Â Joining clubs, working and interning, and participating in events and programs offered across campus are seen as a critical part of the U.S. college experience, and help to support your overall development and growth. They are not seen as a distraction from studies.Â
- Informality: Students might bring food/beverage to class. Your professor may ask you to call them by their first name. While the academic environment tends to be fairly informal, it is still important to understand etiquette and rules for effective communication with University faculty and staff. For tips, see Michael Leddy’s How to Email a Professor.Â
- Participation and Role of the Teacher: Active class participation is generally expected, especially in smaller seminar classes. This means asking questions, adding comments, and potentially questioning what the professor is saying, in order for the class to process and learn from the material. The teacher role is often to facilitate discussion, not to lecture. Learning may be cultivated from all in the class, rather than bestowed upon the class by the teacher.
- Assessment: Your grades may be assessed based on a number of factors, including attendance, homework, exam results, a project, and active participation in class work. If you come only for the exams, you will not pass your class. Students evaluate instructors at the end of each term. Despite the informality of U.S. classrooms, there are strict expectations regarding class attendance, work deadlines, and assignments that you must follow to succeed in class.Â
- Group work and group study may be encouraged. However, sharing individual work with others that they claim as their own, or using someone else’s work as your own, is not allowed.Â
- Academic Honesty: While group work and collaboration may be encouraged, there are still very strict rules about academic integrity and producing oneâs own academic work. This means you do not copy the writing of others, and when you do use the wording or ideas of others in your work, you give credit to them. All work produced must be your own – you cannot purchase papers or claim to do work that you did not do.Â Learning how to properly cite or paraphrase in your academic writing can be very challenging if this is new to you. There are various citation styles used in U.S. academic writing. The UConn Writing Center has resources for citing your work.Â International students may feel a lot of pressure when learning to read and write complex texts in a second language; do not let this pressure lead you to dishonest academic work. There can be serious consequences for submitting work that is not your own. UConn has many resources to help you – visit ISSS if you would like to learn more.Â
- Supplemental InstructionÂ
The Academic Achievement Center offers Supplemental Instruction for some UConn courses. Supplemental Instruction sessions provide students the chance to meet with a peer leader who provides extra instruction and support for undergraduate classes that have been identified as particularly challenging for UConn students. Supplemental Instruction is offered at multiple campuses; find the Supplemental Instruction course listings here.
- Office Hours
Visit your professor during their office hours if you have questions about the course. If you are struggling, visit your professor multiple times during office hours. Bring your homework, bring your exams, and be ready to discuss your challenges with the course. Â If you got the answer wrong on a test, and you cannot understand why, ask your professor. Ask what you can do differently when studying. Â Ask how/what to study going forward. If you cannot attend during office hours, email your professor and ask for a special appointment, or email your professor with your questions or concerns.
- Record Lectures
Ask your professor if you can record the lecture so that you can listen to the class as you review your notes.
- Study Group
Look for students in your class studying together and ask to join. Ask your professor to recommend a study group. Â Invite the people who sit next to you to create a study group with you. Studying with friends WILL help you to perform better in class.
- Start Early
If you know what courses you will be taking next semester, ask the professor if you can have a copy of the syllabus. If you have time during the break, start some of the reading before the class begins to get a better understanding of the material at your own pace.
Campus Support and Involvement
Visit http://uconn.edu/campus-life/living-on-campus/ for information about:
- Living on Campus
- Campus Health & Safety
- Arts & Culture
- Activities & Recreation
Q Center Peer Tutoring, review sessions and learning tools. Support for âQâ courses Math, Physics, Chemistry, Statistics *Walk-In Support *Review Sessions *Downloads * YouTube Channel
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Also, contact your individual professors for recommendations.
The Source for Active LearningQ Center, Writing Center and support services for Stamford Campus students.
Q Center Hartford Peer Tutoring, review sessions and learning tools. Support for Q courses Math, Physics, Chemistry, Statistics. Offers walk-in support, review sessions, downloads and YouTube Channel.Â Â
The Academic Center Q Center, Writing Center and tutoring services for Avery Point Campus students.