I’m so sorry for taking so long to write a new post. Anyway, I thought I would update you guys on the school system in Australia, just in case you decide to do an exchange yourself! Yes, contrary to the beliefs of my friends back home, students on exchange do study and attend class.
So unlike at UT, every single class here is broken into lectures and tutorials. Students meet with their professors in their lectures, but there is only one lecture a week that lasts two hours. However, apart from this once a week lecture, we also attend tutorials with tutors (a.k.a. teaching assistants) with a much smaller class size. Most lectures have about 300 students enrolled, but each tutorial only has a maximum of 30 students.
Only meeting once a week has its pros and cons. For instance, I really like being able to finish all of my week’s material for a class in one sitting. It definitely upholds the more relaxed Aussie mentality. Yet, it definitely has its cons. It is much harder for the lecturers to keep all of the students focused for the entire lecture. Furthermore, the lecturers are not able to go as in depth with the material, as they are usually rushing to finish within the 2 hours allotted for the week.
During tutorials, most tutors just review the homework that was due that week. Three of four of my tutors grade us based on our participation in our tutorial. I really enjoy tutorials here because they reinforce the material we learned in class, show how the tutor or other students solved the problem, and allow students to meet other students. I definitely would like to see schools back home incorporate more tutorials.
Because you only meet once a week, it is actually quite common here for students to go to the university (or as they shorten it to ‘uni’ here) a couple of days a week. For instance, as per my visa requirements I am taking 24 credits here (which is 4 classes, or 12 credit hours back home). Therefore, I split my schedule so that I have school for four hours a day, but only three days a week.
Lastly, the grading system here is also quite different from back home. Here grades are broken into high distinction (85+), distinction (75-84), credit (65-74), pass (50-64), and fail (below 50). When grades transfer back to the US, I believe that earning a distinction or higher here counts as an A back home, a credit is equivalent of a B, and a pass is the same as a C.