The View From Campus: Finals in the USA
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
In this month’s edition, Dr. Mandy Hansen, Director of Global Engagement, at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, explains some of the more striking differences about academic life at U.S. colleges and universities.
Q. Describe your institution in 5 words?
A. Innovative, scenic, caring, safe, and inclusive.
Q. What is your institution best known for overseas?
A. We have strong innovation programs and community relationships that complement our academics. For example, UCCS collaborates with the government entities on the National Cyber Security Center and is involved in a unique project with the US Olympic Committee as Colorado Springs is the Olympic City.
Q. What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?
A. Business, Engineering, the Arts and Sports related program (like a sports management program for golf and soccer)
Q. What are the top 5 countries represented at your college?
A. India, Saudi Arabia, China, Spain, Canada/Kuwait are tied for fifth
Q. How does your institution use IELTS in the admissions process? How valuable a tool is it in evaluating prospective students?
A. IELTS is used for admission into our undergraduate and graduate programs. We have a baseline score that is required for admission into our degree programs. We use the test as a predictor for academic success in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These are skills that our students need for success and to feel comfortable with as many classes are focused on group work, note-taking, and interactions that require fluency on all levels.
Q. What is finals week at U.S. colleges and universities like?
A. It is a time that many offices on campus pull together to offer support to their students. Here at UCCS, we assist our students during this stressful time by having a free breakfast for students to make sure they are nourished and energized for their studies and keep the library open for longer. These are a pivotal effort to assist in the students’ success.
Q. How do finals exams differ from what most international students experience in their home countries?
A. Finals exams abroad are often the only contributing factor to a students’ grade. However, in the United States most classes give a final grade based upon a variety of activities ranging from group work, class attendance, presentations, exams, and papers.
The final exam, which may even be a final paper, lab report, or presentation, is one part of a student’s grade. Therefore, it is essential that international students attend each class and keep up with the assignments that are due throughout.
Q. Is it true that how well a student participates in classroom discussions is often a portion of a student’s final grade for a class?
A. The U.S. classroom often includes group work and interactions between the instructor and other students. This type of interaction is fostered when a student enters elementary or primary school as a child.
Collaborative activities and team projects are the norm and are often values that an employer will want from employees. Having confidence in speaking up, participating, and being involved is essential for success.