31How American Universities are Different

by Danny K. Howard, EAP Associate Director

Many students ask me a lot of questions about American universities. They are different from those in Japan in many ways, so in this tip I will explain the differences. I will do this by answering common questions that students ask me about them:

1. Can I change my major at an American university?

Yes, you can! At most universities in Japan, students have to decide a major before they enter. (A major is a study subject like biology, business etc.) However, some students at Japanese universities change their minds and want to study something else. 

In America, changing your major is OK. Really, all you have to do is talk with your counselor, and she will advise you on the paperwork to do. Of course, changing your major might cause you to graduate later, but it is still possible. When I was a university student, I changed my major more than 3 times!! At such a young age, I just couldn’t decide what to do in my future. It’s nice to know that you can change your major in America if you really want to!

NOTE: Our staff at NIC will help you decide your school and major. We are here to help you!

2. Where can I live at my university abroad?

Housing is very different in America. At Japanese universities, most dormitories are away from campus. However, at almost all American universities, the dormitories are on campus. This is great and convenient because students don’t have to commute far to get to class. In most cases, dormitories are only a few minutes from most of the university buildings. Even if you don’t want to live in a dormitory, most universities have lots of cheap apartments around the campus. These are only minutes away from campus by foot!

NOTE: Our staff can give you lots of information about dormitories, apartments, homestays and other housing information.

3. How are American university classes different from Japanese ones?

Well, professors give lectures in both Japanese and American universities, but American schools have more interaction. Interaction means: the professor asks the students questions and students share ideas in class. In American university classes, most students pay attention, take notes, and try to participate in the lecture. This is very important in America! 

NOTE: At NIC, students can experience taking American style classes. For students going to the UK, don’t worry...the British style isn’t much different

4. What are American campuses like?

Many American campuses are very big. Schools in America need a lot of space for buildings, athletic facilities (like stadiums & areas), dormitories, libraries, and other facilities. Another important point is the balance of nature and historic architecture. Most campuses have lots of beautiful natural places with lots of trees, green grass, and park areas. These are important to help students relax. In short, American campuses have everything that students need: big libraries (usually open until midnight), a lot of nature, beautiful buildings, and many facilities for students to enjoy themselves.

5. What kinds of activities are there on American campuses?

Many students ask me if they can join clubs and activities on campus in America. In fact, this is one of the most common questions that students ask me. Each American campus has a building that is managed by the students. This building is called the Student Union. In this building, students can relax and play the piano, study, watch TV with friends, play games, or find out information about clubs and activities on campus. The campus bookstore and cafeteria are usually located there, as well. Sometimes special events are held at the Student Union like outdoor concerts, special guest speaker events, and club activities. I also loved to go there everyday as a university student.

6. Will I succeed at an American university?

Based on our past experience, I must say “yes”! NIC students achieve a high rate of success abroad. In many cases, they get better grades than native speakers because they work so hard. At NIC, we prepare students for success at colleges and universities, and this has excellent results. We have seen our students get into many high level colleges and universities around the world. Of course, you can be successful, too!

NOTE: If you would like to find out more information about our past graduates, click on this link for information→ Kyouhokai

In short, American universities are great places to study. If you have any more questions about studying in America, write me or come visit our school to find out.