America In Yola:
How An American Education is Different
Coming to AUN and experiencing an American-style university education is new for most African students--and for their parents! We are very conscious about the cultural differences (and similarities) between Nigeria and the United States and work hard to develop intercultural understanding among all members of the AUN community. However, this is a university based on the American approach to education. What is that approach?
General Education, 'electives', majors and minors, discussion sections--much of this will seem foreign. It is American. So here is a quick guide.
Americans firmly believe that: every individual is unique; every individual deserves equal respect; every individual should learn to make his or her own choices and decisions; every individual needs general knowledge to be a good citizen; every individual should help shape society, equally; every individual needs to think for himself or herself.
US education tries to train people to become such individuals. This is the American University of Nigeria; what we do here reflects these ideas.
General Education: Unlike universities in many other countries, in addition to studying a specialty such as "Petroleum Chemistry" or "Marketing" or "English Literature,” American universities all have programs in "General Education." That means students study more broadly--they learn ideas from other specialties. They learn ethics, and history, and culture, and literature, and science. We call it a "well-rounded" education. We are training not just specialists, but citizens.
Majors And Minors: As in all universities, each student is expected to specialize in a particular subject matter. In the American system, such specialities are called “majors.” All students will graduate with a particular major. Some students also want to learn about another ﬁeld of study in some depth, but not as their primary focus. In the American system, such sub-specialities are called “minors.” Thus, for example, one could major in Economics and minor in Journalism, or some other combination of studies.
Electives: Some courses are required of all students, and some are courses that students get to choose for themselves: electives. Students (with the help of their academic advisors) get to choose which course in science--for example--is most interesting and helpful. Even "majors" and "minors"allow students to make some individual choices within the specialty.
The result is that by the end of four years with us, no two students have taken exactly the same courses. Everyone has had an individual education, because everyone has different talents and interests and goals. Everyone is an individual, every education unique.
Class Participation: Because one of the goals of US education is to hep train students to think for themselves, be creative, and solve new problems, students are required to actively participate. They just don't sit and learn what teachers, books and the Internet tells them. They are expected to ask questions, discuss the course materials with fellow-students and professors, think and defend their own ideas. They are even expected to challenge and debate their teachers! In this way, we believe, students learn how to become creative, confident adults. How well and how much they do this will be part of their grade for the course.