As my college career is coming to an end, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes an American University different from an American one.
One of the biggest things is our football game culture. Going to the University of Arizona, which is a big sports school, puts a huge emphasis on making football games an all day event. For a game that starts at 7 pm, people begin tailgating as early as 11 am on our “Mall” (basically a huge patch of grass along the middle of campus). People walk around and talk to other fans. There’s a lot of food, beer, games, and team spirit. It really brings your school together and the pride you have for your football team, even if they aren’t the best. And that doesn’t happen at small schools or even around the World. It’s a defining characteristic of an American school.
Besides that culture difference, there’s also the academic difference. Now it’s no secret that the American education system is having a huge problem. The cost of attending school is rising more than the rate of inflation (which is going to get worse as our economy feels the backlash of QE3). But there are valuable things we emphasize here that other countries don’t.
I spent a week at the University of Washington competing in a Global Business Case Competition. There was us Eller students, UW Foster students, Concordia University of Canada, The University of Aukland, De La Salle in the Philippines, National Singapore University, American University Cairo, The University of Hong Kong, Tech de Monterrey Mexico, The University of Belgium Brussels, and The University of Navarra Pamplona.
I had the unique opportunity of being on the Global Team which was myself, a student from UW, a student from NSU, and a student from the University of Koba Japan. We had 48 hours to come up with a business case and present it to judges. Now on our team us American students were focusing on being creative and thinking outside of the box, while our Asian team members were focusing on data and financials to back it up. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it was nice to get a different perspective on solving this case.
Now my team didn’t make it to the final round, which is fine. In the preliminary round we actually went against the winning team of the whole competition. And watching the final round presentations was outstanding. The Eller team also went to the final round, but their focus was more about being creative and confident. While the Canadian, Hong Kong, and Singapore team were not only creative but had the financials to back it up. I saw over 100 backup slides all with financials and market analysis. It was incredible and I’ve never seen anything like it.
I thought I learned a lot from all my travelling, but it didn’t prepare me for this. I am fortunate enough to attend Eller and learn everything I have, but this just shows the importance of studying abroad. Not only learning about different cultures, but from different experiences, different learning styles is important to survive and be successful in our rapidly evolving World.