Flexible Curriculum is a valuable thing that is hard to put a price on

Flexible Curriculum is a valuable thing that is hard to put a price on

Many university students in Russia and Ukraine complain about their inability to choose from the variety of courses offered in their schools. In all the Eastern European universities schedules are fixed, and students of linguistics major have to take law and economic classes, whereas IT students are obliged to study history, literature, and languages. We understand that the goal of the higher education is to give students knowledge in different disciplines to be fully prepared for professional life, but sometimes these additional disciplines are extremely difficult and affect students’ grades significantly. Moreover, they are overwhelmed by classes: an average Eastern European student has four of five classes per day, five days a week. And nobody has cancelled homework assignments yet. So what we have is that for five years students study every single day from eight in the morning till night because they must attend all the classes and do all their assignments. Certainly, a lot of them need to work, and this is where the real fun starts.

Taking everything above into account, we can guess why many students are looking for universities abroad. Western education is not easy at all, but students get this fantastic opportunity to choose the subjects they want to study. A lot of students choose to move to the United States and get a degree in one of the American colleges and universities. However, when it comes to American schools, one should have a very good idea of how expensive these institutions can be. It is fantastic if you can afford to study in Harvard or Yale, where a year of an undergraduate program costs around 45,000 USD (not including housing, food, insurance, and other fees and personal expenses). Sounds like a lot of money. CBS has presented a list of the most costly American schools. The list includes such schools as University of Chicago, Columbia University, New York University, and Sarah Lawrence College. Together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Berkeley, Princeton, Stanford, and a few other universities they belong to the elite of higher education schools in the world. However, more affordable and still good schools in the US do exist. If you are thinking about moving abroad and becoming a student of an American college, your task is to do your research and figure out which school meets your expectations.

There are several types of higher education institutions in the US. Private universities are considered to be the most prestigious ones (as Harvard or Stanford) and, therefore, the most expensive. Private universities and colleges are not funded by the government. They depend on students' tuition fees and private funding. Public schools are state universities and colleges, and government is actively involved into their funding. There are public schools that are considered as prestigious as the private ones (e.g. Berkeley and Chicago State University). In general state universities charge lower tuition fees, but they offer great educational programs.

The US educational system gives students a chance to study in a community college. These colleges are usually less expensive and they provide students with an associate’s degree in Arts or Science. Associate’s degree can be completed for two years of undergraduate studies. Usually students with the associate’s degree continue their education in universities to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. Another type of institution which is very popular in the States is a liberal arts college. Obviously, liberal arts colleges focus on liberal arts and provide students with a broad knowledge in various disciplines in comparison with schools that offer more vocational programs. Which fields do liberal arts cover?

Social sciences

Social sciences include such subjects as law, psychology, history, anthropology, economics, gender studies, etc.


Such disciplines as linguistics, philosophy, literature, art, religion, music, theatre, and modern languages are included into Humanities.

Natural sciences

Here we have biology, astronomy, physics, archaeology, geology, and other disciplines.

Formal sciences

Formal sciences include logic, mathematics, and statistics.

Why do students prefer a degree in liberal arts? If they hesitate and need time to think about the career path they want and they do not want to lose precious time, they get their degree in liberal arts because it provides them with an opportunity to study various subjects and decide where they would like to go after graduation. What is good about this degree is that students can earn their BA or BS later and then become enrolled to a graduate school.

What we like about US higher education system is that you can choose your major only being a third-year student. In comparison with the Russian or Ukrainian system, where students know what their specialization will be from the very first day at the university, American students can wait and try as many different courses as they want. Certainly, each program has specific requirements: students need to take language and literature courses, but their curriculum is not fixed, so they are free to create their own program of study. It is very helpful because young people who have just finished school and started their adult life might have little or no idea of what they want to become. It does not mean that Eastern European higher education is worse than Western education – Russian and Ukrainian students demonstrate great results when they study abroad. What we are discussing here is the freedom to choose your own path and take the courses you are interested in. This is a great difference between the two systems.