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Differences Abroad

             How many times have we found ourselves rushing to our professors" office doors and waiting by the mailbox to find out what kind of grades we have received? If you are like most American college students you will find that the answer to this question is that it happens all too often. But do you think that these grades actually reflect what we have learned? Would we be better off with a system of higher education that contained no grading at all? Well, according to David Rothenberg, a philosophy professor, who spent time teaching in Finland, their educational system is centered on the belief that grades are not necessary to learning. In his essay "Learning in Finland: No Grades, No Criticism," he tells about his experiences teaching as a Fulbright scholar in Finland. He tells us about how the educational system is set up, how the students respond to it, and whether or not it seems to be effective. I will attempt to compare and contrast this system of education to that which is practiced in American colleges.
             In Finland, according to Rothenberg, students are never graded on any of the work that they have completed and they are under no pressure to compete with their peers. In fact, the "Finnish colleges and universities frown on competition." (Rothenberg 341) Students are not required a time limit to complete their work for a certain course, and they are not required to pay tuition either. They actually get paid to be there. This is obviously nothing like what American students are used to. We are graded for every paper and class, which have strict time limitations attached to when they must be completed. Students endure harsh competition from every angle. In order to even be accepted to an American college your high school transcripts and GPA's and ACT scores are compared to those of every other hopeful applicant's. After this, a schedule will be determined where the pressure is on to enroll in as many classes as necessary to achieve a full course load.

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