An Insight to the American Education from a Scottish Student

Living The American Dream

An Insight to the American Education from a Scottish Student

Avatar Taylor Hastings

The United States of America. U.S of A. ‘Murica. Everyone has dreamt of living in the “land of opportunity” one way or another. The media that we’ve consumed from a young age has made it seem like the USA is one of the coolest places to live. Whether that being the schools, the parties, the sports or even just the beautiful cities, we’ve all had thoughts of what it would be like living over there. Have you ever thought of what it would be like living over there…as a student?

Moving to the USA

Moving to a whole new country can be nerve racking, especially to start studying. A whole new application system, different entry requirements, the sheer culture shock of moving abroad can be daunting to many. Studying in America isn’t widely spoken about in schools, mainly because almost no one would consider it after the see the tuition fees. Studying in America is far from cheap, where the annual tuition fees range from $5,000-$50,000 (£4,074-£40,746).

Why would you ever consider moving halfway across the globe to study and pay large tuition fees when you could just stay at home in Scotland and study for free thanks to SAAS and the Scottish government? There is so much outside of Scotland that is waiting to be seen. Moving abroad for university is a great way to meet new people from all over the globe, have new and unique experiences and all in all just grow as a person by learning to live independently without help from your parents.


Meet Leona Murray

Over 10,000 students from the UK are currently enrolled in US universities, one of them being Leona Murray. Leona is 20 years old and made the big move over to America after she finished high school back in 2019. She’s currently a Junior (3rd year) at Denison University, which is in a small town Granville, Ohio – around 30 minutes away from the state’s capital Columbus. Currently studying financial economics, Leona hopes to become a finical analyst after she graduates in 2023. Leona was lucky and clever enough to be offered a full scholarship to study in America for 4 years – this covering tuition fees, accommodation, and her visa.

Denison University, OhioDenison University | Granville, Ohio We had the

Q: Why America?

A: “One of the main reasons was the different opportunities that the American universities have. Denison University have a liberal arts system.

Liberal art systems in America is where a range of different courses are offered. Liberal arts is a broad term that includes humanities, arts, social sciences and natural sciences. These headings are then broken down into smaller, specific courses. For example humanities would include English, history and foreign languages. Art majors would include music, theatre etc. Social sciences include things like economics and psychology. Liberal arts colleges also tend to emphasize smaller class sizes, this being so the students have more of a chance to build a better relationship with their lecturers and tutors.

A: “When I left high school I thought I wanted to do physiotherapy so I came to Denison and did Biology…then I figured out I didn’t like it. Because of the liberal art system at Denison, I was able to try different things, and now I really like economics.

Leon Murray in America celebrating 4th of July

A Key Difference In the USA

When you’re a freshman (1st year) in America, you study a range of subjects, sort of similar to high school back here. It’s not until you become a Sophomore (2nd year) that you pick your major and minor. The major is what’s listed on your diploma, and is essentially your main subject. The minor is a secondary concentration of courses. It could relate to your major, or it may just be a completely different area that you find interesting or passionate about. Minors are a perfect way of showcasing your versatility in education. Some students chose to use their minor to support their major; for example you could major in History then minor in journalism. This would amplify the major and help provide depth and context to the study

The Application Process in the USA

The application process is of course completely different. Here in the UK we use UCAS, and universities mainly just us on our grades and personal statement.

Leona spoke about the application process for applying in America:

“Instead of focusing on your grade, it’s more about fitting your fit to specific universities that fit your goals and personality.”

While your grades do matter, colleges in America focus more on individuals’ personalities, extracurricular activities, and volunteering. One of the other main differences is in America you can apply for an unlimited number of universities, while here in the UK UCAS only allows you to select up to 5.

The application process is much easier in the UK as it’s all done in one place. The process is much longer in the US as you have to apply through each university directly and have to go through each institution’s own admissions department. American students can use the Common Application, which is similar to UCAS, but they will still need to write an essay specific to each university they are applying to.


Student Life in the USA

Drinking alcohol is an integral part of Scottish culture and student culture. Celebrating? Have a drink. Feel down? Have a drink. We drink to everything and everything. With the legal drinking age and alcohol culture being so vastly different over in the States, Leona experienced some considerable differences in the way of student recreation time.

“Many students who come to university here have never touched alcohol before and so they go crazy – almost like a high school party back home in Scotland.”

One thing the Brits have the upper hand on is alcohol consumption. Brits typically start drinking at a younger age

“The main place where we drink is Frat houses and parties because there are so many people under 21 -the parties almost feel the same as what we see in the movies. I feel much less independent here and more restricted because I have to ask people to get me alcohol, like I’m a child.”


Opportunities + Travel in the USA

There’s so much more to just going over to America to go to university. It’s a whole new country with a different culture, places to visit and see. It’s the perfect chance to explore such a massive country and make the most of your time away from home. So many opportunities arise that you don’t expect.

She even has the chance to go abroad to study for a year. She had originally planned to go to Australia but because of COVID regulations, she switched to Switzerland. Leona has made the most of her time in America. She’s climbed the Hollywood hills, partied in luxurious yachts in Miami, explored snowy sand dunes in Michigan and visited so many more iconic American landmarks – she really has made the most of the land of opportunity

While it may be daunting at first, going abroad to study in America is a one in a lifetime experience. It’s a chance to meet new people from all over the globe, explore so many fascinating cities and landmarks, live independently and grow as a person. It’s a chance to live “The American Dream”.

Taylor Hastings

My name is Taylor Hastings and I'm an Erasmus International student from Scotland on exchange at Abat Oliba CEU. I am currently in my 3rd year of university studying towards a Bachelors degree in Media & Communications.