Attending an American University

15 Д Д oney is also increasingly a factor in a college education. All university students i_VA must pay tuition expenses in the United States, and the cost of an education is rising much more rapidly than is the average family income (about five times higher between 1991 and 2001). Because tuition is much lower at public universities than at private ones, wealthy students have more choices. There are a number of financial aid programs in the form of loans and scholarships available at both public and private schools. However, the expenses of buying books and living away from home make it increasingly difficult for many students to attend even the less expensive public universities. Many students must work during their college years to help meet costs.

16 A growing number of students cannot afford to go away to college and pay

$15,000-$39,000 each year for a public or private university. They choose instead to attend community college programs for two years in their hometowns, paying as little

they are low-paying jobs in the service sector of the economy—such as in fast-food restaurants, small stores, and hotels. Additionally, many jobs are being outsourced to countries where salaries are much lower. This is true of both higher-paying technical jobs and lower-paying jobs requiring limited skills.

21 Because of the importance of higher education, many adults combine working with taking classes at a college. Many public and private colleges and universities are making it easier for students to take classes through distance learning, using the Internet to provide materials and lectures as well as to engage students in discussion. Some students who are living on campus or commuting to classes take at least part of their coursework by distance, but it is also possible for a student to obtain both undergraduate and graduate degrees without ever being on a college campus.

Educating the Individual

22 A merican schools tend to put more emphasis on developing critical-thinking JLjL skills than they do on acquiring quantities of facts. American students are encouraged to ask questions, think for themselves, and express their own opinions in class, a reflection of the American values of individual freedom and self-reliance. The goal of the American education system is to teach children how to learn and to help them reach their maximum potential.

23 The development of social and interpersonal skills may be considered as important as the development of intellectual skills. To help students develop these other important skills, schools have added a large number of extracurricular[92] activities (activities outside classroom studies) to daily life at school. These activities are almost as important as the students’ class work. For example, in making their decisions about which students to admit, colleges look for students who are “well – rounded.” Grades in high school courses and scores on tests like the SAT are very important, but so are the students’ extracurricular activities. It is by participating in these activities that students demonstrate their special talents, their level of maturity and responsibility, their leadership qualities, and their ability to get along with others.

24 Some Americans consider athletics, frequently called competitive sports, the most important of all extracurricular activities. This is because many people believe it is important for all young people, young men and young women, to learn how to compete successfully. Team sports such as football, basketball, and baseball are important because they teach students the “winning spirit.” At times, this athletic competition may be carried to such an extreme that some students and their parents may place more importance on the high school’s sports program than its academic offerings.

25 Student government is another extracurricular activity designed to develop competitive, political, and social skills in students. The students choose a number of student government officers who compete for the votes of their fellow students in school elections. Although these officers have little power over the central decisions of the school, the process of running for office and then taking responsibility for a number of student activities if elected is seen as good experience in developing their leadership and competitive skills, and in helping them to be responsible citizens.

26 Athletics and student government are only two of a variety of extracurricular activities found in American schools. There are clubs and activities for almost every student interest—art, music, drama, debate,

image169volunteer work—all aimed at helping the student to become more successful in later life. Many parents watch their childrens extracurricular activities with as much interest and concern as they do their children’s intellectual achievements in the classroom.

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