Friday, May 11, 2012

Making an American Undergraduate (bachelor’s) education come true – Part1

An American four-year Bachelor’s degree (undergraduate degree as it is called) is a great educational experience. It combines unique campus experience and quality of teaching found only in US universities. It has content and style.

Indian parents recognize the American bachelor’s degree to have value, but not many families send their children to the USA for a bachelor’s degree. The reasons for this are many:
- A bachelor’s degree in the USA is quite expensive, and not many can afford four years of tuition and hostel expenses
- Parents are not comfortable sending eighteen year old students just out of high school so far away
- Parents may not feel that children are mature enough to handle the transition
- Children may not feel capable of going away from familiar surroundings just yet
- Children may feel doubts about their ability to handle American style teaching, and cope with the cultural changes at the same time

Recognizing these misgivings, many American universities are now entering into collaborations with Indian institutions where students can do two years in India, and then complete the remaining two years in the USA. This collaboration comes mainly in two flavors:
- the 2+2 program where the student gets an Associate degree at the end of the first two years, and then transfers to ANY American university of choice
- the twinning program where the student completes two years in India, and transfers to the specific university with which their institution has a collaboration

The primary differences between these two types of collaborations are:
- at the end of the 2+2 program the student gets a Associate degree; at the end of two years of the twinning program, there is no degree awarded. The degree is awarded only after four years.
- in the 2+2 program, the student can transfer to any American university for which they fulfill the transfer criteria; in the twinning program, the American university is pre-determined

This 2+2 structure is possible because of the nature of the American bachelor’s degree program. Every undergraduate program in the USA requires the student to complete a given number of credits in General Education which covers English Language, Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Quantitative techniques. This is regardless of whether the major is arts, science, business or engineering.

The split program described above allows the student to complete the General Education requirements in India, in a homely atmosphere, with the support of family, and at less expense, and then transfer to an American university for their education in America to complete the major requirements. It allows the student to get familiar with American style curriculum and teaching. It helps the student to do independent research and team collaborations, which are important in an American curriculum. It helps the student handle any weaknesses the student might have in math or sciences or any other subject, here in India, before moving to the USA.

Doing part of the degree in India reduces the cost for families and makes it possible for more students to get an American bachelor’s degree. The tuition cost in the 2+2 program can get reduced by 50% depending on the program and facilities offered.

The 2+2 program enables the students to get American style education, here in India, and facilitates a transfer in the third year, when the student is older, and presumably more mature and capable of being away from home. This program helps students realize their dream of an undergraduate American education