Not necessarily. In reality, the United States has a very diverse collection of campus cultures, each with its own identity and priorities, and the Internet does not always reflect this adequately. With this in mind, here are four common myths about college life in America:
1. College is primarily a social event
The film industry has produced many movies that depict American college life as a continuous social event, with very few hours spent in class. Such portrayals are occasionally reinforced by articles and lists like, “The Best and Worst Party Schools in the U.S.” In reality, American college students are often held to high academic standards, and they are expected to meet those standards if they wish to return each semester, and to graduate. This means that, while many students do enjoy socializing, they also prioritize their academic responsibilities.
2. There is no support for international students
Moving to a foreign country, whether for a semester or for four years, can be stressful. For many students, the process is rife with anxiety-provoking concerns about whether or not they will be welcome or will fit in. Some international students may even fear that the college to which they are applying will not provide adequate support.
Luckily, most schools have formal departments (like the Office of International Student Affairs) that are designed to help international students acclimate to their new environment. These departments can assist you with student visa questions, or they can help you with simpler requests, like directions or referrals. In addition, there are many on-campus clubs and organizations that can provide peer support and opportunities for socialization.
3. Americans are less academically driven than students in other countries
Another concern among international students is that Americans are less academically driven than their foreign peers, which might seem to suggest that the quality of classes is sub-standard. However, this is generally a matter of cultural difference. U.S. classrooms tend to be more relaxed or informal than education in some other countries, and instructors often encourage student interaction with peers or the professor. This makes learning less of a one-directional activity, but it does not mean that it is less rigorous or challenging.
4. It is possible to commute everywhere
In many countries, public transportation is widely available, and it allows citizens to travel great distances. Sadly, in the U.S., this is not always the case, and it can pose a problem for students. While most American cities have some form of a transit system, it is often limited to urban areas. If you plan to attend a college that is located in a city, this might not be a problem for you, but if you are applying to rural schools, you may find yourself limited to campus activities (or to activities that are accessible via the campus bus system) if you are without your own car.
David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.