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Academics in The US vs AUS

Updated: May 2, 2019

My name is Nick Passarelli, I am a second-year mechanical engineering student from the United States. Back home I studied at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, in addition to my mechanical engineering major I also have a minor in business administration for engineers. Engineering students at least in the US don’t usually study abroad simply due to the course load, but this is something I’ve known I wanted to do before I even started applying for colleges. It was tough but I wanted to balance the need to take certain courses as well as the desire not to fill my plate up with too much so I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself while I was here. I decided to take four classes two of which would count for my business minor, one towards my major, and another that would count as a gen-ed back home.


I wasn’t totally sure what to expect in terms of academics from UTS. I didn’t know how different university here it would be to studying in the US. I have made a couple of observations though as to the differences. Firstly, the grading system is different, in the US grades are mark using letters such as A, B, C, etc. in Australia they use terms like high distinction and credit to note the mark for a class. The weight of the scale is different also from what I can tell if the mark in terms of percentage were the same between the US and Australia then the mark would be worth more in Australia than the US. Though it may not matter if you are taking a class for pass/fail instead of a grade. Another difference is the class schedule, in the US I generally had a class 2-3 times per week and they were about 50 min long, at UTS though you generally only have that class once (counting lectures and tutorials separately) and its around 1.5-2 hours long. This left a lot more free-time in my schedule than I anticipated which was rather nice. Another big difference I noticed is the work load. Most of my classes in the US were all over the place in terms of workload, some only grades 3 exams through the semester, others graded attendance, homework, quizzes, labs, and exams. At UTS however I’ve noticed a lot more consistency in terms of what is assigned by classes, generally at least 1 group assignment is included, plus a few quizzes throughout the semester and a final exam. I actually like this consistency because, I don’t feel as if I’m getting blindsided with tons of work from each class. So those are some big differences that I’ve noticed between the US and Australia. Though its different I think it works well in its own right and I’ve enjoyed my time so far here and UTS is definitely an awesome place to be.

Nicholas Passarelli

Country: USA

Course: Mechanical Engineering

University: University of Massachusetts Lowell

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