Across the Ocean: A degree is still a degree

Now that I have reached the halfway point in the semester, I feel secure in mybeliefs about the difference in approaches to education here in Ireland versus the United States.

First off, Irish students enter university with their career path and major in mind and upon arrival, they immediately work toward their degree. General education courses do not exist.

This difference not only fascinates me but my Irish friends as well. They never get the opportunity to explore different courses that diverge from their interests.

To them, an English major has no reason to be in a music class. Yet, the idea of going outside the box is enticing to them.

Another major difference in education is the level of continuous assessment. In most Irish classes, attendance is not taken and participation does not exist.

Personally, the lack of class participation is the hardest change for me. I enjoy asking questions and listening to different perspectives from my peers.

Sitting in a lecture with over 200 people in it, compared to the 30-students classes at FSU, is a bit daunting.

Grades in most classes are defined by one essay and a final exam.

No pressure.

The grading system is also different. Fourty percent is a passing grade and 80 percent is nearly impossible to achieve.

These differences have changed my perspective on education and how different countries picture the “perfect” educational system.

However, there is no such thing as a perfect educational system, because people learn differently. Children adapt to the system early on, so by the time they enter university, it is second nature to them.

Before I came to Ireland, I was naïve in thinking it would be simple transitioning from continuous assessment to two grades defining my average.

But I was so used to continuous assessment that the transition to the complete opposite was less than perfect.

But like most of my time in Ireland, I have learned how to adapt.

I have learned how to take responsibility for my education. I go to class not because I have to, but because I want to.

While I miss the small classes that require participation, being in complete control of my education is empowering.

I believe education is what you make of it. You choose to either skate by or put your whole heart into it.

I know I will get a degree in the end, but it is what I make of the journey that matters.

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