Why the US? – Caroline Lee (New York University ’19)

Caroline Lee is a rising sophomore at New York University, studying Computer Science. We asked her a couple of questions regarding her decision to study in the US and her first-year experience.

1. How did you find out about studying in the US? 

I applied to both the UK and the US because I wanted to keep my options open. After researching extensively about their differences, I found that the U.S education system evaluated its applicants with more fluidity and flexibility. All UK universities have a minimum requirement for grades, and it is explicitly stated in UCAS; whereas the U.S., while still taking grades into account as an important factor, also considers a variety of other aspects of an applicant. This fluidity carries in the education system itself, allowing you to more or less construct your own course to suit your needs. This means being able to choose your own classes, which professors to take it with, and when you want to take it. Most times you can even take classes outside of your major. As a person who likes to explore and try a little bit of everything before making a decision, an American education is perfect for me simply because of it is flexibility.

2. What made you decide to study in the US? 

The extent of flexibility: You can choose when you want to graduate as long as you fulfill the number of credits required. You can take time to explore different classes because you do not have to declare your major right away (you typically have to declare sometime towards the end of your second year). Some universities even allow their students to design their own interdisciplinary program (customize their own degree), and even have schools for it – like the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU.

3. How did your first year in the US go? 

I went to NYU wanting to major in Economics and minor in real estate, but I took one introductory Computer Science class and decided to pursue that instead. The pace of NYC is like no other. During my initial period in university, I was completely taken aback by their work culture as it differed from anything I had ever experienced in Malaysia. For example, deadlines for assignments are typically 2 days from their start date. I was also surprised by how much my professors expected of me even as a freshman. It is a much busier lifestyle but definitely also a more productive one.4)

What’s the biggest takeaway you got studying there?

I am of the opinion that no matter where you go, it depends on how you make use of what you have around you. My biggest takeaway after studying in the U.S is to try absolutely everything you can. In classes, engage in discussions as much as you can, you will never know what you could learn from it. Outside of classes, engage with the city/town/campus that you live in – if you study engineering, go for engineering conferences, meet other people from other universities, and network as much as you can. After all, you are not going to travel thousands miles away from home for nothing!