Student Life - UK vs. USA

4 min read

The USA offers a number of amazing opportunities for international students, such as sports scholarships, which they simply cannot get at home. However, there are many differences between the student lifestyle in the UK and USA. We have put together a short list highlighting some of these differences.

University Spirit


Within the UK, extra-curricular activities do not tend to hold a huge amount of importance. Campuses across Britain can often have a large number of lively, active societies, but often these are just seen as a distraction from the real business of academia. Unless you are actively involved in these, you seem to hear little to nothing about them and their successes.However, extra-curriculars hold a far greater level of importance in the US. These extra-curricular activities are often viewed as integral to the mission and purpose of their schools, and can often require students to prioritise them in addition to their studies. Not only students, but often entire towns, can be found to be supporting a schools team and that's before you even begin to mention the marching bands, cheerleaders and mascots!

Study Flexibility

Within universities in the UK, studies are focused upon depth, not breadth. It is possible for students to study a 'joint honours' degree however; the majority decide to focus upon one subject. Starting out with a broad study of the subject in first year, and then narrowing down to something approaching a specialism by the student's final year. For students in the UK, this is the norm, as is having to choose which subject you will be studying before starting your time at university. However, in the US it can be a different story. Students can start out by choosing their major, but most tend to enter university on a much more general pathway e.g. a liberal arts degree, covering arts, languages, literature, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences and philosophy. This broad level of studying seems unheard of within UK universities.


Within the UK, a lot of students tend to stay in Halls of Residence for their first year of university. These tend to have a shared kitchen and living space, but an individual bedroom and often an en-suite bathroom too. However, in the states, it is commonplace for students to be sharing their room with another student. With regard to meal times, students are usually left to fend for themselves leading to the stereotype of students living off beans on toast for weeks at a time. Often US dorms consist of two students sharing a bedroom, and students on the same floor sharing a bathroom. The thought of sharing a bedroom may seem a bit daunting for UK students, but can provide them with the perfect opportunity to meet new people and make lifelong friends. Additionally, US students' dorms tend to be catered and this can often be included in the accommodation costs, or at least be heavily subsidised.

Opportunities to work

Students in the UK often work alongside undertaking their studies. Universities often advise that students keep their working hours to a few per week though in order to keep up with their studies. At universities in the US though, it is often the case that international students are not allowed to work off-campus throughout their first year of studying, and even then there are certain conditions and restrictions which must be adhered to by students.

Despite the differences to home, college life in the United States offers students some fantastic experiences. If attending university in the states in something that is of interest to you, then:

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