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US Education Lynda Thomas. A very personal view No guarantees of correctness Who am I? – Mainly educated in Canada and UK – MSc Southern Illinois University.

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Presentation on theme: "US Education Lynda Thomas. A very personal view No guarantees of correctness Who am I? – Mainly educated in Canada and UK – MSc Southern Illinois University."— Presentation transcript:

1 US Education Lynda Thomas

2 A very personal view No guarantees of correctness Who am I? – Mainly educated in Canada and UK – MSc Southern Illinois University in US – PhD from Aberystwyth University – Taught at Carroll College in Wisconsin for nearly 20 years - That was 10 years ago

3 The Early Years Kindergarten Grade 1 at 6 years old Junior High School - grades 6-8 High School - grades 9-12 Nothing like A levels, but SAT (or ACT) exams in grade 12 (marked 200-800) So ‘1500 on my SATs’ is very good Admission to university based on SATs, grade point average in high school, and position in class

4 Universities A very wide range: public, private, liberal arts, technical, research, colleges, universities 4,216 degree-granting institutions in the United States during 2004–05 Enrollment in two- and four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. reached 20.5 million in 2006 About 65% of young people go on to some kind of higher education

5 From 2006 census data

6 Public Universities - State Schools Often very large but on different campuses. Charge students from ‘in state’ (and close states) less in fees. Usually lots of them with different ‘feels’ e.g. Wisconsin – University of Wisconsin, Madison – University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee – University of Wisconsin, Platteville – University of Wisconsin, Waukesha

7 Private Universities Range from large and well respected through to tiny and not very good. But some of the small ones have excellent reputation eg. Amherst, Oberlin, Antioch, Reed, … But should be accredited! e.g. All colleges and Universities in Wisconsin are accredited by something called ‘North Central’ which accredits over 8,500 public and private schools in 19 states

8 Public (13 million) vs. Private (4 million) $9,953 Average tuition, room and board (for in-state students) at the nation’s four-year public colleges and universities for an entire academic year $29,119 Average tuition, room and board at the nation’s four-year private colleges and universities for one complete academic year Students pay with a combination of loans, grants, ‘discounting’, and work (almost all students work) Public institutions get state and federal money Private usually have an endowment, get fees, but also get public funds (not sure how)

9 Colleges vs. Universities No nationally standardized definition of the term in the United States Traditionally been used to designate research institutions But lots of exceptions eg. Dartmouth College is one of the best US Universities and part of Ivy League

10 Ivy League Actually a football conference! Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Yale All private and in North Eastern US As you move out west the public institutions are as old as the private ones

11 What are best? Depends what you want At Madison undergrads may not see a ‘real’ professor for the first 2 years A liberal arts college probably has better undergrad teaching US News and World Report Princeton Review

12 Undergraduate 4 year degrees Students apply to different institutions Those institutions accept, reject, and the private ones put together a package of finance (remember they know all info) Students usually come in without a definite major and pick one by end of second year

13 Liberal Arts 1/3 of your time in your major 1/3 in ‘distribution requirements’ Rest in electives and support courses For instance, at Carroll our CS students did 32 total courses, 12 in Computing, 5 in things like maths and business, 9 in distribution: 2 humanities, 2 Social science, 2 Science, 2 maths or computing, 1 art

14 How many study Computer Science? March 2009, Information Week: After years of decline, the number of undergrad students majoring in computer science at U.S. universities rose last year for the first time since the dot-com bust….Survey of 192 U.S. universities with doctoral programs found that total enrollment by majors and pre-majors in computer science increased 6.2% last….

15 The numbers quoted are based on schools discussed in last slide – one article said this is 20% of Bachelor’s in country (the numbers in the InfoWeek article make no sense)

16 From 2002 census Degrees awarded Below bachelor’s – 5% Bachelor’s - 4% Master’s – 3.5% PhDs – less than 2% This is for Computing and Information Sciences (Computer Engineering may be counted as Engineering)

17 What is Computer Science? Overall, more software engineering than computer science, but …. Is it in Science (possibly Maths), Business or Engineering?? Will affect the type of CS How find out what type of CS it is? Look at the prospectus, for example: Carroll University UW, Madison List of depts

18 GPA Courses are ‘rough graded’ ie A, AB, B.. Then a detailed GPA is calculated – 4 for an A, 3 for a B, etc. multiplied by number of credits and averaged, – So, a GPA of 4.0 is the best (usually) Also can graduate Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude or Summa Cum Laude

19 Doing Graduate Work Being a grad student (not usually called post grad) Accepted based on GPA, GRE exams, undergraduate institution and recommendations GRE exams: analytic writing, verbal, quantitative graded 200-800+ and given a percentile (see wikipedia) Also subject exams (not always needed)

20 Getting a Teaching Assistantship (TA) Pays fees and a small salary TAs are needed to teach all those undergrads who are taking distribution courses! Also marking, computer centre, etc. US students will pick their institution based on reputation and also whether they get a TA

21 Best Schools for Computing Just like any country it depends on subject area I would find the area I was interested in and then search acm.portal and google scholar to find out who has published in it Find out where they are and get a feel for that University Check out the required GRE scores Find out how much it costs and whether you would be likely to get a TA (very unlikely in first year for overseas students)

22 Doing a PhD Often MSc is just a stopping place on the way 5 years 2 years take graduate courses Then some kind of qualifying exam – Different terms and procedures in different places – These assess your general knowledge of field – Sometimes called ‘comps’, ‘prelims’ or ‘quals’ Then begin to actually do the research Write thesis and defend



25 If you pick academia - then what? Post-doc perhaps Assistant Professor - approx 5 years to tenure………… if you get tenure usually promoted to…. Associate Professor …. then often Professor Lots more professors in US than here

26 So, why did I do a PhD in UK? US: Courses, prelims etc. Difficult to do part-time 5 years More structured? UK: ‘Just’ research Easier to do part-time 3 years I often felt a bit lost Wanted to live in Wales

27 Questions? How big is Computing in your country? What kind of system is it? What kind of computing do people do? What is the structure of a department? How are things funded? How does all this work out at your institution?

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