The US election is coming to an end with Joe Biden as the winner. Does this mean more possibilities to students from China? Should US university application be re-started? Today let listen to the BIBS Guidance Counsellor Ms. Sonja’ opinion on this.
10 years of experience in international education with a master’s degree in Education from the University College London. IB rated and member of IACAC, US Embassy approved HS guidance counsellor. College Board approved SAT examination room supervisor.
Chinese students faced many challenges under the Trump administration, where international academic exchanges were seized, visa became tougher, restrictions were put on polytechnic subject fields etc. COVID made things worse in the year of 2020, many families stopped looking at US universities due to the poor performance of the US government on the pandemic control. Joe Biden, being a Democrat representing the values of freedom and opening, has promised to carry out effective measures to take control of the pandemic the day he takes over the office. It seems to be more possibilities to the students from China.
Personally, I categorize education into Talent Education and Holistic Education. Talend education is to develop talents for special professional fields, focusing on professional skills and employment rate. For example, the undergraduate education in UK, students are requested to choose their major with application materials supporting that choice.
Holistic Education on the other hand, is what we also call liberal education, which is to empower students with a wide range of knowledge and transferrable skills, strong values, ethics and sense of social responsibilities. Holistic education offers opportunities for students to deal with the real-life issues and challenges, and focuses on learning methods instead of a certain subject field. This is typically seen among the US universities.
In the US comprehensive universities and art and science colleges, students are required to read widely in diversified fields in year 1 and 2, and only choose a particular subject field for advanced studying from year 3. For highly professional fields such as medical and law, students can only option at postgraduate stage.
Regarding the curriculum of liberal education, I’d like to use Columbia University as an example. Students must gain all credits of the 9 fields in the first 2 years, which is also known as the core curriculum, including Literature, Modern Civilization, Liberal Arts, Music Arts, Frontier Science, Foreign Language, Logic and Rhetorical Writing, World Major Cultures and P.E. In other countries, France or UK, a Chemistry student only learns about chemistry. But at Columbia University, the student must also learn about music, arts and literature. Liberal Education is not to train for jobs, economic returns or ideologies.
Liberal education is to build a whole person, under which students not only dip into knowledge of diversified fields, but also find the commonality among them and benefit from the interdisciplinary thinking. In other words, liberal education is to pursue the origin and process of knowledge. Students do not only absorb knowledge, but also critical-think between old and new knowledge. So no matter what their future professional career might be, they gain the critical thinking skills and the ability to transfer knowledge among various subject fields.
It’s not difficult to see that the US liberal education and IB share the same education philosophy. An IB student will gain critical thinking skills and interdisciplinary ability before going to university. Many BIBS graduates who are in the US universities told me they fit in their new environment smoothly. University was like an extension of their IB education experience.
Back to our question – should US university application be re-started? I think the mission of universities is to develop teenagers into adults in the best 4 years of their life. If you agree with the US liberal education concept and believe you will become a responsible, free and complete adult from it, US will be an ideal option to look at!