Thursday, July 31, 2014

Is the Grass Really Greener on the Other Side?

University of Oxford 


San Diego State University

To answer the question posed above, yes, the grass is literally greener at Oxford. One should not be surprised at how vibrant the grass is at the University of Oxford. The Oxfordians owe their strikingly green grass to the numerous “keep off the lawn signs.” As you can see on the images above, the grass at San Diego State University appears to be of a more dull shade of green is sporting a dull with patches of yellow. If you look closer, you can even see a student walking directly on the grass. The color of the grass is just one of the differences that separate the two universities. Moving on from the oh-so-interesting topic of grass to one that struck me the most on our class trip to Oxford, here is a map of all the colleges of Oxford that spreads out across the city.
            There are 38 different colleges that are divided according to a specific subject. With this design the focus directed on one area of study as opposed to having several classes. The downside to that it does not allow students any room to for exploration. Contrary to that, SDSU has a main campus that every student steps foot in. Furthermore, the requirement for completion of general education classes at SDSU gives students the freedom to discover new interests and possibly change their major. Oxford students, however, will find this to be a greater challenge because their general education would have already been completed by the time they begin at the university.
            The architectural differences are also prominent. Oxford’s buildings give off a historical feel from its various early medieval and gothic design. Their classical design is also one of the reasons why the streets are crowded with tourists. San Diego State, on the other hand,  has constant construction to renew or improve its buildings. The new glass walls of Storm Hall at SDSU deeply contrasts with the plant-covered walls of St. John’s College.
            Apart from the external differences, there are also disparities between the two. Because the University of Oxford is divided into different colleges, it takes less time for a student to graduate. As our British life and culture professor, John Makey, explained, the type of studying that British students experience is more independent compared to that of American students. They have hourly sessions with a personal tutor who, then, gives them an assignment that they have to submit in a couple of weeks’ time. With that system, Oxford students graduate after three years of attending university. That could not be any more different from what an SDSU student, like myself, have experienced. At SDSU, and most universities in the United States, we are expected to show up at a lecture hall with a couple hundred other students once to three times a week. With an addition of the general education classes, it usually takes four or more years for an SDSU student to graduate.

            The grass at Oxford might literally be greener, but it doesn’t necessarily make it a better choice for a university. If a student is absolutely certain on their major and the path that they want to take after graduating, then yes, the University of Oxford will undoubtedly be a superb choice. For a student, however, who is more likely to stray from their original path and explore their options, San Diego State University’s system might be more suitable for them.

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