Describing U.S. higher education

JONATHAN CHENG: I don’t know if
I can speak for everyone on this panel, but in the US, I
don’t know many reporters who majored in journalism per se
because typically, the approach is, regardless of what
you wanted to do after graduation, you studied what
you wanted to study. And what I always wanted to
study was history, and I absolutely loved it. And I studied all kinds of
history, and I never really thought about being a journalism
major, therefore, if I want to be a reporter,
therefore I should do journalism. It was very much study what you
want to study, and on the side, I had plenty of
opportunities to write both for my school paper, as well as
doing some freelancing for newspapers in New Jersey,
where Princeton is. PETER RODENBECK: When you’re– 17, 18 year olds to choose a
path, and go down that path, and that’s exactly what you’re
going to be doing for the rest of your life, I think the point
of an education is to really be exposed to the world’s
greatest thinkers, to be passionate about what it
is that you’re studying. And I think a liberal arts
education, very similar to Normandy’s experience, it really
focuses on knowledge for the sake of knowledge. What you get in the US is a wide
range of choices, and you can be very, very specific with
what you do with your education, and be very
goal orientated. But you can also go into
universities that really should have challenged you to
think at the deepest level, and I think if you find
something that you’re really passionate about in university,
the amount of commitment that you put into
that will eventually allow you to really evolve your thinking,
evolve your ability to articulate and have
a point of view. And that applies to anything
that you do after you’ve finish university. JENNIFER MA: I think one of
the great reason to study abroad is to really develop your
confidence, because you could become independent, you
could leave your family, you could think for yourself, you
could everything that my fellow panelists had
already said. And also, it would really
broaden up your mind, and give you the confidence to do
something out of the box. I grew up in Hong Kong. I studied in Canada, US,
and back in Hong Kong. I just expanded my company in
China two years ago, and if I don’t have that abroad
experience, I would really have just probably just limit
myself to where Hong Kong is, but now I’ve seen the world. I’ve been out there. I know what’s going on. I have the confidence to expand
and to grow bigger. NORMANDY MADDEN: One of the nice
things about the small schools is that actual
professors teach your classes, even when you’re a freshman. And if you go to the big
universities, you have graduate students teaching your
first and second year classes for the most part. So that’s one of the real
benefits of a small school, and I think for a foreign
student, that would be especially helpful. You get a lot more personal time
with the professors, and if there are language issues,
or culture issues that you want to get some personal
attention, you can get it there. For journalism, I would
say start writing and reading a lot. But in terms of thinking about
schools and going to university, I would advise you
not to go in being quite sure about what you want to study. Take classes in a lot
of different areas. When you’re 17 or 18 or 19, it’s
very hard to know what you want to do with your life. So think about other options. PETER RODENBECK: Just to add to
that more concretely, when you go through the admissions
process for US university, they’re looking for people
who have a balance. There’s a number of things that
they look at, and grades are only one of the aspects. You will have to write essays,
and so expressing an opinion is very important. Practicing your writing
is very important. Extracurricular programs like
the ones that were mentioned count a lot towards
admissions. So it’s really a very different
process there. They look at the whole person,
not just the grades that you’ve received in
your classes. NORMANDY MADDEN: And
test scores. PETER RODENBECK: You take
the SAT and all of that. But it’s so balanced, and that’s
what makes it so fair in the admissions process
in the US. It’s not just about one thing,
it’s about every single aspect of a person’s development. So these are great ideas, but
they directly could contribute to helping you in your
admissions process towards a US university. The really interesting thing
about the US is you have those first two years, most of the
times, before you declare a major, and it’s a really good
time to take a wider array of courses, and really think
about what you want to do in life. If you’re qualified, and
passionate, and smart, you’ll always get a job. There’s not enough talent in
the world, and not all the jobs are just in medicine, or
law, there’s just a wide range of occupations out there. It’s better for you to
be truly passionate about what you do. MARIA LUK: For students who
go to study in the US for undergraduate, or if they do a
master, usually they go on a US student visa, but usually the
student visa also includes a certain amount of time
after graduation, usually around one year. This time, the US government
call this optional practical training, OPT, and they usually
have about a year after graduation where you’re
free to work in the US, and your employer would not
have to get a US work permit for you. So that is a good way to get
your foot in the door in the US if you’re really interested
in studying and working in the US. But I think if you just go
straight from Hong Kong to the US, it’s a little bit
more difficult. VIRGINIA TAM: The way of
thinking, as opposed to substance of knowledge that
they focus on, they want students to think critically, to
analyze creativity, and be able, and not to be afraid to
communicate ideas, and to agree to disagree. And also, they provide a very
broad platform in terms of the type of people that’s involved
in that high level, intellectual communication. They intentionally draw a very
diverse pool of students. That is what a US education
is about. US education does not want
to mold you into just regurgitating the facts, or to
remember the rules, but rather to be someone who drives
solution, who presents solutions, who can think
creatively, to deliver a solution to a problem. TERRY O’KELLY: I can only
narrowly speak to the US, but there’s so much research that
happens in the universities in the United States, and so
getting to be a part of that, you have, like you said, the top
person in a field will be at a university, and there
at that university. And they’re doing research, so
they’re on the cutting edge of what’s happening in
that field next. And you get exposed to that as
a student at that particular school, because if you have that
professor as one of your professors, then you instantly
get information that is not out there in another place. It’s right there, and it’s being
presented to you right from the horse’s mouth. So that’s something in the US,
that the universities have millions of dollars in research
that is happening every day, every year. The main thing that I can point
you to is those basic courses that you take. If you haven’t quite figured out
what you want to do, you don’t know if you want to be
a dentist, or a nurse, or whatever that is, it’s
that stuff that inspires you initially. So if you think I’m going to go
to medical school, and this is what I want to do, that stuff
that inspires you early on, that’s who you are, and
that’s what you’re going to do really well with. So focus on that. If you can have any time
visiting with somebody’s office, or in a hospital
volunteering, any of that, if you think you’re interested in
the medical field, getting that first hand exposure of
seeing what do they do on a day to day basis, even
if you volunteer in the gift shop, whatever. If you can find some place where
you can see first hand what all the different pieces
of that puzzle are, then it gives you a better idea
of what area you want to focus in.

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