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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student


COLUMN: My experience with the American education system


After my microeconomics exam that took place April 30, I am finally done with my freshman year of college. Having lived and studied in India my whole life, coming to the U.S. for my undergraduate education was definitely a whole lot different.  

The weather in the Midwest was not as friendly to me as the weather in Bangalore, often known for having the best climate in India. The winds alone were enough of a pain, but with the freezing winter settling in over the month of January, I had greatly underestimated how different the weather here would have been compared to India.  

Next was the food. The flavor, cuisine and hours of the dining court, especially over the weekends, were something that took me over five months to get used to. Being a vegetarian, acclimating to the food and its general availability, was a battle in itself.  

And of course, the elephant in the room: the education system. The American education system was different, both positively and negatively from the Indian system I was comfortable with. Positively with the increased accountability and regular testing of concepts it demanded from the students, as well as negatively with the level of consistence and perfection it required students to portray.  

In India, there are several different education boards that are implemented across the schools, and the colleges follow a similar structure as well. I studied under the Central Board of Secondary Education. This was one of the more popular and widespread boards in India. In short, this education board, like many others in India, focused primarily on the midterm and final exams that took place through the year, giving little to no weight to projects and external assignments. Due to this reason, if one was to not pay attention throughout the year, but “lock in” just before finals week kicked in, they could easily score very well on the exam and essentially get a great final grade for that academic year as well.  

Now from all the time we’ve spent studying at Indiana University, no matter where we’re from, we’ve all gotten a good idea of what the American education system is like in contrast to what I just explained above.  

American education is nothing like the Indian education system. With a lot more weight given to quizzes, assignments, team projects and extra credit assignments, this education system puts a lot more stress upon consistency. From my experience, what I consider this education system to emulate is the importance of consistency, persistence and the ability to keep pushing through, despite how small the task's actual weight might be.  

I stayed consistent throughout the academic year, submitting every assignment, quiz, project and homework assignment on time, with not one slip up. And yes, results were seen — however, not as much as I had thought they would. Towards the end of the semester, what I started noticing was that the assignments I was submitting, even with a great score on them, bumped my grade up by merely a percent or two. However, one missed assignment, or one assignment I didn’t perform on as well, and my grade dropped by a whole lot more than just one percent.  

That’s when I realized that the key to success in this education system is a lot more than just innate intelligence or knowledge. On the contrary, this education system attempts to test and challenge one’s ability to meet deadlines, punctuality, consistency and, above all, sheer ability to work hard and put in the time.  

As intimidating and challenging as it was to get used to this education system and train my brain to learn how to keep up and perform well in this system, I do believe that by remembering and constantly ensuring to work hard and stay consistent, it can make it a little easier to get through these next few years of college.  

Pehal Aashish Kothari is a freshman majoring in marketing with a minor in apparel merchandising.

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