American ‘college’ can teach British uni a thing or two
Some American ‘college’ traditions we should adopt at British unis, and some of the stupid things they do which we don’t want
After spending a year at the University of New Mexico, I’ve noticed a few things American colleges do which British universities could definitely learn from.
There are plenty of things, however, American universities do which are absolute rubbish… they don’t have The Tab yet, which is their first mistake.
What we can learn from them
Bring back house parties! It’s so much cheaper to BYOB than pay for drinks at the bar, your mate’s iPod would probably be better than the DJ anyway, and the party by no means has to end at 2am. There’s dancing, beer pong (something we also need more of) and you don’t have to pay a cover charge. Just don’t be the dick who leaves at 11 to go to a club.
Let’s be honest: unless you’re an athlete yourself, no one gives a shit about British university sports. Even if, like me, you don’t take any interest in sports, it’s hard not to get swept up in all the excitement in American college games. Parents, alumni, and locals actually care and turn up to support the college team! Many of them are even televised, and there’s always a fantastic atmosphere in games, which is largely due to….
The. Best. Thing. Ever. Tailgating is the gathering of thousands of students in a field/car park outside the college’s American football stadium before the game, drinking beer from early afternoon till late evening, usually with a barbeque and DJs playing music. And there’s usually sunshine, but that might be harder to bring over to the UK.
The tradition of spending one week on a beach somewhere with thousands of other students, drinking all day, and going out clubbing every night. A better version than those Magaluf/Zante holidays you went on at 18 because everyone is a student, and it’s (marginally) less scummy. What more could you ask for?
Uni stash and general school spirit
At first I was confused and disgusted by the abundance of students walking around in uni stash on American college campuses; hoodies, trackies, t shirts, basketball shorts… the lot. All the time. But then I realised this is because I’m used to the British tradition of self-deprecation and the idea of showing any semblance of university pride (unless it’s in the form of sports stash, which is essentially mandatory) is “lame”. Well, I think it’s quite nice to be proud of your uni and wear the hoodie around campus. Sue me.
What American colleges can keep, thank you
Draconian American drinking laws
This is what leads to horrors such as dry campuses. Awful. The house parties may be good, but fuck having to wait until third year to go out clubbing or to the pub.
This also means many American students have never been drunk or even properly consumed alcohol prior to moving away to university; this results in an abundance of overwhelmed students leaving home for the first time and having no clue how to handle their booze.
Most Brits perfected the art of holding their own hair back whilst being sick in the loo and putting themselves to bed by age 17.
Resident Advisors (RAs)
RAs are older students who, in exchange for free room and board, live on campus in freshers’ halls and watch over a certain corridor or floor. At dry campuses this essentially means making sure the freshers don’t drink in their rooms/aren’t drunk when they get home/don’t smoke weed. They also make their residents take part in cringey team-building activities.
Greek life at American colleges is the system of fraternities and sororities which we see so often in American TV shows and movies, in which the guys are all called Chad and have backwards baseball hats permanently stuck on their heads, and the girls are all called Courtney, Tiffany or Whitney.
As far as I can tell, Greek life at American universities involves paying a lot of money for friends. If it’s not for friends, then it’s paying the rent of the fourth year students living in the fraternity or sorority house on campus.
Of course, it’s absolutely worth it if you get to live there, sharing a room when you’re 21 years old, not being allowed to drink, and if you’re a girl you can’t have boys upstairs. Okay, they do some philanthropy or whatever, but do you really need to join a club to do good deeds? No, you don’t.
Ridiculous tuition fees
American colleges seem to have forgotten they are there to create a more informed and productive workforce rather than being businesses existing solely to make lots of money. Tuition fees at top American colleges are currently as high as £25,000 per year and all universities in the UK are capped at £9000 per year. They can definitely keep that.
Bloody long terms
Or should I say “semesters”. First term typically starts in mid-August, a time we all know should be spent having barbeques, annoying your parents at home, and trying to scrape up some money in preparation for next year.
They also only have one week off for Easter holiday, or “Spring Break”. One week! Enough time to spend being drunk with your mates on a beach, yes, but not nearly enough to spend half the time pissing about and the other half revising for exams in summer term.