During my time in Colorado and California, it has really struck me that the demographics of those studying at school (uni) in the US are completely different to the UK where most students are 18-21. In the US it is far more common for those in their 20s and 30s to be at school and it’s so refreshing!
Either full time or signing up to individual classes, which are studied at home alongside family life and an existing career, the schools even have (compressed) semesters running over the summer.
US bachelor degrees are four years long compared to the UK’s three, but the choice of classes available to complete the degree seems expansive and far better than the more specialist UK system.
Family and friends in the US embrace aspirational life-long learning and seem to have complete faith in their ability to get through any class they want to do. I’d love some of that great American confidence!
Many people I met are at school with a particular job in mind and the study is part of the journey to get there. Far better than going to uni for the sake of it, choosing something you enjoy without an aim besides the qualification. It seems better to wait and work out what you really want to train for. All those I have come across are motivated, driven and have mapped out a complete pathway to achieving the goal in mind.
Education is expensive over here as it is in the UK, but there is an open acceptance and general agreement that it’s worth it to better yourself – and don’t worry too much about the (rather monumental amount of) student debt.
I love the fact that in the US it feels like there isn’t the pressure to establish your career straight out of uni at an early age (unless of course you want to), and that career changes seem far more acceptable, accessible and achievable. I was impressed by someone’s transition from coal miner to pilot – the sky is the limit, quite literally.
The US have a great scheme for ex-military, where they pay for ‘veterans’ to go to school and retrain in something else which I’m sure contributes to the 20s/30s school demographic.
Maybe I have a warped view of the English education system, but for me and perhaps the UK too, there is a lot to be learnt from the American system – both in terms of process and attitude. Their norms are so different! But the job market is equally competitive.