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Why everyone should consider studying in the USA - George Thomson
7 min read
George Thomson is currently working as an intern at FirstPointUSA while on summer vacation from Lewis University. Here are his views on why everyone should consider studying in the USA... All students should get the opportunity to study abroad because it opens the eyes of students when they see how different education systems work, while experiencing the culture of a foreign country and gaining self confidence and independence. The world is becoming an increasingly mobile place offering great opportunities to everyone. I was in the fortunate position of being given the opportunity by FirstPoint USA to study and play my beloved sport, football, in Chicago Illinois, United States of America. I chose Chicago because it is known for being one of the greatest cities in the world, and one of the largest in the USA. It is located in the Mid-West, which is the one of the closest to my home country, Scotland, for visiting during my summer and Christmas breaks. I am now in my senior year now and have lots of experience with the way of living as a student athlete in the educational sports system, which in my opinion is the best in world as it incorporates sport in its curriculum whereas the British system would not. The facilities provided are amazing and enables and challenges me to prove myself and do my best. I have all the support I need to make me successful in sport and academics in the USA. I currently study Sports Management and if I had chosen to study by Bachelors degree at a University in Britain it would only provide for academic study and facilities to enable this, for example, library. It would not incorporate college soccer, golf, basketball or any other sport in its curriculum. I would have had to play my sport in my own time and find a team and facilities to train myself. The British system is also highly acclaimed throughout the world for pass rates but the lack of sports opportunities lets it down. The British education system is generally free, however, the students usually have to fund their own living expenses or take out a student loans. Payments to fund the education system are made through general taxation from paid employment ranging from 20% to 50% and also business taxation, which is given by the Government on an annual budget to the Department of Education to distribute. The American education system is completely different to the British system. Although the American system is one of the best, schools can cost up to $30,000 per year, as the students have to pay for their own studies, however, I don’t know of anyone that has to pay anywhere near that amount because students all apply for scholarships, such as academic scholarships and sports scholarships. In the American education system, at college, you are required to study general subjects that maybe the student is not interested in. This gives students studying in America more options. They can go to university and not even know what they want to study. Students can decide after two years of taking their general subjects. My schedule has mandatory courses that I never thought I would have to study for again, such as math, literature, religious classes, sciences, history and economic classes. So it is a little bit like GCSE’s all over again, except more advanced. These types of classes may or may not interest some people, but comparing it to the British system, where you study one subject and you study the course for four years for one specific course. This could backfire if you are studying in Britain and you have just finished your first year at college and then you decide you don’t like the subject and you decide to change your course. You have basically just wasted a year because courses are four years long. That’s why the American system is so popular because you can go to college and study general subjects and not even know what you want to major in. You can pick to study general subjects, and after you find something that you are really interested in you can finally declare the major you want to graduate with. When coming to America I had no idea what to expect and did not know what I would experience. The experience can be as crazy, and as simple as, in Scotland, I never grew up with kids from different cultures. Living in Scotland and in particular, my area, the percentage of white Scottish people is around 98% so all the kids I grew up with are of white Scottish nationality. For an American or anyone form a different area to hear this must be very surprising as they are very used to living in mixed communities. Now I have met so many people of all races and I have found this an enlightening experience, one of which I treasure. In my football team there are boys from all over the world. I play football with a Brazilian, Columbian, Cameroonian, English, Irish, German, Mexicans and also Americans. There are also people with Italian, Polish and Albanian heritages. So I have met so many people from all around the world at my University and I can honestly say I would not have had this opportunity if it were not for FirstPoint USA. I was also lucky enough to be in the United States of America whilst the recent 2012 election was taking place. I found this to be a very interesting experience, watching the debates and the campaigns and listening to what my friends’ opinions were. After all, the American election is the biggest election in the world, changing lives and forming policies not only in the most powerful country in the world, America, but throughout the world. These are some of the reasons why studying abroad will widen the horizons for the opportunities for students. College sports programs are massive in the United States. Schools pay ‘Scholarship money’ to help the student pay for tuition fees so they can come to their school and play in their sports program. In Britain the choice of doing both, is not possible. If you want to go to college and get an education you generally cannot play a sport at a good level. I was playing “under 19” football for a professional football club who had just started a Professional Sports Academy. This meant I could train and study for Sports Management as well as working hard to get in to the first team. This was a flagship program and only some professional clubs do it. This only worked for football, as there are no opportunities for other sports. It was when I was part of this Academy that I heard about scholarships and decided to apply because It was a once in a life time to play college soccer at a high level and study for my degree, it gave me an opportunity to visit America, visit places I never thought I would be able to see, and make friends with people from all over the world. I have never looked back, and it was the biggest and best decision I have ever made.