My D is a rising senior in the US and is considering schools in both Canada and Scotland. She has ruled out the English and Welsh schools because she wants a broader 4-year experience.
One thing we cannot fully grasp is the difference in student support. Here are some things we have read/heard about the UK schools (esp. St. Andrews):
• The coursework is intense and students need to be disciplined to do their work.
• Grading is done at end of term, and often based on one paper or project.
• Day-to-day support is not really the responsibility of the school, but the peer support is fantastic. This is likely due to the expectation that 18/19 yo’s are adults already.
• Academic and bureaucratic support from tutors and school admin is available - but one must seek it out.
And here is what we have read/heard about the Canadian schools (mostly McGill/UofT/UBC):
• The coursework is hard - really hard.
• Grading is harsh, and feels like grade deflation to US students used to grade inflation.
• Freshman classes can be massive - 300-600 students. I even saw 1000 reported.
• UofT and UBC? have a system where you are accepted to a faculty/college for Year 1, but you have to apply for your major after year end grades come out - so some students don’t get to study what they want. And if you miss a requisite class, you are delayed a year.
• There is little support for students from the university, but some is available. Getting time with an academic advisor is very difficult, and may be unhelpful despite the wait.
• The bureaucratic red tape, esp. in Quebec, is significant.
• There is a real issue with not getting the classes you need to complete your major to graduate on time.
Overall, we are getting a more positive vibe about UK unis and more negative about the bigger Canadian unis. (We get a great vibe about the small Canadian unis, but they may be too small for D.)
1. I see a lot of reassurance that the UK schools have strong peer support and peer-directed activities through the student unions, clubs, and residence halls. The Canadian schools clearly have active clubs, but how about the peer support network? Is it anything like the Scottish unis?
2. The academic and administrative support issues seem comparable. Is one country or another better for finding help with changing a class or getting into a required class, managing financial situations with the bursars office, or other administrative issues? My guess is that this is school- and situation-specific.
3. The reports of the Canadian coursework seem more grueling than the UK. Is the coursework in Canada actually that much harder than in Scotland? Or is this just author bias? Both options have ample opportunity to be distracted (so do US schools for that matter). But all I see about the UK is that the courses are manageable if you are disciplined about your studies, and all I see about Canadian unis is how hard they are.
4. The bureaucracy issues are particularly confusing. Is it really so different between Scotland and Canada?
Thanks for any insights you can offer!