How Different Educations Shaped Me As A Qualified College Student

Throughout my academic journey, transitioning from the educational system in China to attending college in the United States presented a fascinating blend of challenges and revelations. This experience not only broadened my academic perspective but also deepened my understanding of cultural nuances in education. In this essay, I will explore the similarities and differences between these two educational systems, concluding with personal insights gained from my experience in a new educational environment.

For the first 18 years of my life, I spent all my time in China. In between, I went through two education systems. The first one is the traditional Chinese nine-year compulsory education. It was divided into two parts: five-year primary school learning and four-year middle school learning. This education is mandatory for all children aged 6 to 15, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or family background, which aims to ensure that every child has access to basic education. There is a significant feature of this system which its emphasis on examinations, that academic performance is heavily assessed through examinations. Through these nine years I’ve been taking countless tests and exams. And every exam involves multiple contents, therefore I have adopted to a relatively high-pressure learning environment since childhood years.

However, after I graduated from middle school, I decided to change a way of learning. Instead of memorizing all the knowledge just for taking tests, I found it is more interesting for learning by doing. As a result, I choose to learn IB (international baccalaureate) in my high school. Within those three years, I cultivated lots if interests even including business, an academic subject, which I can’t even imagine in my previous nine years. By taking IB course, I learned more practical knowledges with real life example and hands-on experiments. Also, I wrote substantial amounts of essays for all my subjects. In addition to this, all my lessons were taught in English as a preparation for the future abroad learning.

Then the time moves to the August in 2023 where I first step my feet on the land of USA. In an environment and culture that was completely unfamiliar to me, I experienced a brand-new education system. Here, all points of view can be expressed without fear, not only the same opinions, but different thoughts are very welcomed. Within the class, students can also raise their hands at any time to express their views. Even if they are not the right answer sometimes, they are still willing to share their thoughts, and the professor also welcomes active discussions. At the beginning, I did not get used to this kind of learning mode, but with the gradual deepening, I appreciated this kind of education very much that I was fascinated by the collision of all kinds of thoughts and ideas.

After experiencing all three different educational system. I have summarized one similarity and two differences between China’s and US’s.

The one similarity between the educational systems of China and the United States is the ingrained pursuit of academic excellence. Both countries place a high value on education as a cornerstone for future success. In China, this is exemplified by the rigorous preparation for the Gaokao, the national college entrance examination, which can determine the trajectory of one’s academic and professional future. Similarly, in the U.S., students undergo standardized testing and are encouraged to maintain high GPA scores, participate in extracurricular activities, and develop well-rounded profiles for college admissions. This shared emphasis on academic achievement underscores the importance of education in both cultures as a pathway to personal and professional development.

However, the first difference I noticed was in the teaching methods and classroom dynamics. In China, the educational approach is traditionally lecture-based, with a strong focus on rote memorization and the mastery of standardized test material. Teachers are viewed as the ultimate authorities in the classroom, and student participation is often limited to note-taking and recitation.

Contrastingly, the U.S. educational system emphasizes interactive learning and critical thinking. Classrooms are designed to be dynamic, encouraging student participation, discussions, and debates. Professors often facilitate rather than dictate, promoting an environment where students are motivated to think independently and apply their knowledge practically. This shift from a passive to an active learning model was initially challenging but ultimately enriching, fostering a deeper engagement with the material and enhancing my problem-solving skills.

Another difference lies in the flexibility afforded to students in their academic pursuits. In China, students typically choose a major before entering university, and the curriculum is relatively fixed, leaving little room for exploration outside one’s field of study. This system prioritizes specialization from an early stage.

In contrast, U.S. colleges often encourage a liberal arts education approach, especially in the undergraduate years. Students have the freedom to explore a wide range of subjects before declaring a major, and even then, they are encouraged to take courses outside their primary field of study. This flexibility was liberating for me, allowing for a broader educational experience that encompassed diverse disciplines, from philosophy to data science. It nurtured a well-rounded perspective and a versatility in thinking and problem-solving that I deeply value.

Discovering the differences and embracing the similarities in these educational environments has been a profound learning experience. The transition taught me the value of adaptability and the importance of embracing different perspectives. Engaging in a more interactive and flexible learning environment in the U.S. has honed my critical thinking and communication skills, making me more confident in expressing my ideas and engaging in all kinds of discourses.

Moreover, this experience has instilled in me a profound appreciation for the diversity of educational philosophies and practices across cultures. It has taught me that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to education; rather, the richness lies in the diversity of methods and experiences.

To put all into a nutshell, I’ve learned to integrate the best of both sides: combining the discipline and solid fundamental knowledge taught by my Chinese education with the creativity and critical thinking encouraged in the U.S. This approach has not only shaped my academic journey and make me a qualified college student, but has also prepared me for the complexities and challenges of the unknown future.







在我人生的前 18 年,我一直在中国度过。在这期间,我经历了两种教育体系。第一种是中国传统的九年义务教育。它分为两个部分:五年制小学学习和四年制初中学习。所有 6 至 15 岁的孩子,不分性别、民族和家庭背景,都必须接受这种教育,目的是确保每个孩子都能接受基础教育。这种制度有一个显著特点,就是强调考试,通过考试对学习成绩进行严格评估。在这九年里,我参加了无数次测验和考试。而且每次考试都涉及多项内容,因此我从小就适应了相对高压的学习环境。

但是,初中毕业后,我决定改变一种学习方式。我发现与其为了考试而死记硬背,不如在实践中学习更有趣。因此,我选择在高中学习 IB(国际文凭)课程。在这三年里,我培养了很多兴趣爱好,甚至包括商科这门学科,这是我在之前的九年里根本无法想象的。通过学习 IB 课程,我通过实际生活中的例子和动手实验学到了更多实用知识。此外,我还为所有科目撰写了大量论文。除此之外,我所有的课程都是用英语讲授的,这也是为将来出国学习做准备。

时间来到 2023 年 8 月,我第一次踏上美国的土地。在完全陌生的环境和文化中,我体验到了全新的教育体系。在这里,所有的观点都可以毫无顾忌地表达,不仅是相同的意见,不同的想法也非常受欢迎。在课堂上,学生也可以随时举手表达自己的观点。即使有时不是正确答案,他们也愿意分享自己的想法,教授也欢迎大家积极讨论。刚开始,我并不习惯这种学习模式,但随着学习的逐渐深入,我非常欣赏这种教育方式,各种思想和观点的碰撞让我着迷。


中美教育体制的相同之处在于对学术卓越性的根深蒂固的追求。两国都高度重视教育,将其视为未来成功的基石。在中国,这体现在对全国高考的严格准备上,高考可以决定一个人的学业和职业未来的轨迹。同样,在美国,学生要接受标准化考试,并被鼓励保持较高的 GPA 分数,参加课外活动,为大学录取建立全面的档案。这种对学业成绩的共同重视强调了教育在两种文化中作为个人和职业发展途径的重要性。







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