I have always thought that the education (especially universities) in my country of Russia is one of the best ones around the world until I stumbled upon the Liberal Arts education system in the United States, which is completely different from the Russian one. From my perspective, at some points I can say that the way American students are taught is much better than in Russia. On the other hand, there are huge cons that I will try to describe in this article.
In my country we could not even imagine that students have the opportunity to choose subjects from variety of offered courses. In Russia, students start their first year of university with schedule provided by dean, which is unchangeable. That means you must study History and Chinese language while planning to have Physics major without any changes even if you are not interested in it.
And I made a mistake saying that we can plan to have a major as we cannot do that. As soon as you enter your first-year at university, you are already enrolled in specific major which you have chosen right after graduation from high school. Here differences start. The Russian educational system is stricter, which means people do not have an opportunity to develop themselves as a person.
First, the timetable! I was a little confused when I saw my Russian friends’ timetable at first. As I started my university life in the USA without even ever been studying in a Russia university, I had no idea how different timetables are. My friends in my country start their day at 8 a.m. every day except Friday, Saturday and Sunday usually. They are overwhelmed with three or four lectures every day on different subjects, sometimes each lasting for one or two hours. Extracurricular activities are sometimes being provided by University, but usually students do not have time to do anything except their studies (even work). They are being paid for passing their final exam, notwithstanding, it is usually 50 to 100 dollars, which cannot help you that much in your daily life.
Russian students usually do not live on campus. It is common among Russian students to study at local university, therefore, they live with their parents in the same flat, leave for classes in the early morning, and come back later at night to study. They travel around city to their university building, they eat in cafes nearby, but they do their assignments at home.
Assignments are completely different from ones in America too. My friends never do their homework for the next lesson as they do not need to. Their final grade is 100 percent, which depends on how they do their final exam. It does not matter if you were absent for 10 lectures or not, it does not matter if you were not preparing for every single lesson, it is important to do your best on your final exam!
In this case the Russian education system is not that good. First, you do not develop your personality at all as you have fixed timetable, lectures and do not have homework. Russian students live with their parents which means they do nothing for a living, they do not have to care whether their clothes are dirty, or their bed is not made. They do not usually make that many friends in University, they do not develop their social skills. That is why, in my opinion, American students are lucky to have a Liberal Arts education system as it provides them with a large variety of opportunities, makes you work on your personality and diverse skills, not only on your academic performance.