Classes in Australia–kangaroos do NOT hop around the lecture hall

Everyone has misconceptions about Australia.  Many outsiders believe that kangaroos are fixtures of city life and that koalas take the bus to work.  Ok, maybe the latter is an exaggeration, but many foreigners do believe kangaroos frolic through the CBD (Central Business District) reaping havoc on the working population.  Nothing could be farther from the truth, and likewise, although some university campuses do have kangaroos that mull about, mostly, the wildlife hangs in the wild, leaving well enough alone those city dwellers.

So, since everyone is clear on this misconception, it’s important to clarify some other ideas that many North American students studying in Australia are not aware of: classes (nice segue, right?)

There are several differences between North American universities versus that of an Aussie institution.  For one, terminology.  Many Americans utilize the term major as their field of study, but in Australia it’s a courseCourse in American university lingo is a class.  Sometimes it’s ridiculous that this is the same language.

The school week has a very different layout than that of North American universities.  Lectures consist of anywhere from 50 to several hundred students and tutorials may consist of 10 to 30 students–these are more smaller, in-depth classes.  Overall, there is a big chunk of free time with only about 15 hours a week of class.  Thinking of hitting the beaches for some surfing extravaganza?  Hold up!  Just because there is considerable free time, this doesn’t equate to slacking off.

Not only is there less time in a lecture hall, there is very little in the ways of assignments.  For many students, they believe this gives them time to work on their tans.  Not so much!  Although class assignments and exams aren’t overly integrated into the curriculum but this does NOT mean that it’s easy.  In fact, in some ways, this makes it more of a challenge.  Maybe only two exams or projects are assigned, but this is your entire grade!  So with that extra time, it’s expected that you conduct independent research and study.

Time management and organisation is key.  You can visit the many sites of Australia, go out with friends, join a rugby team and fit in the adequate amount of studies.

Here is a guide to the grading system in Australia.  In Australia, the grade begins at 0 points and you earn points for correct answers, whereas, in America, grades begin at 100 per cent and points are taken away for wrong answers.

High Distinction 85 to 100 %
Distinction 75 to 84 %
Credit 65 to 74 %
Pass 50 to 64 %
Fail Below 49 %

Clear up those misconceptions about Australian culture and university and get educated!


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