Friday, July 10, 2009

A Comparison of Oxford and SDSU

SDSU and Oxford are both great schools that differ in many ways.  Probably the most obvious difference is the way in which courses are taught.  Professor Mackey described that Oxford bases their teaching on a tutorial system, wherein students receive a tutor based on their specific needs.  This is a positive because it means more individual attention for the student.  SDSU’s teaching style is based on lectures and classroom time.  Classrooms usually have around thirty students and the lectures can get all the way up to five hundred students.  There are a lot more students at SDSU so this lecture style works more effectively.  It would be impossible for SDSU to abide by this tutorial system.  There are positives and negatives to both teaching styles.  The most obvious negative about the SDSU system is that students must take it upon themselves to visit professors during office hours if they want to discuss a grade or a topic.  It is easy to get lost in the crowd of students and maintain anonymity.  In other words, students have to work to set themselves apart and work for their future, whether it’s by harassing a professor for a letter of recommendation or trying to get a position in a competitive research lab.  Oxford students already stand out from the crowd because they come from such a prestigious university.  The fact that thirteen prime ministers have come out of Oxford provides evidence of this.  Since there is a smaller student population and individual tutoring, students do not have to work as hard to gain the attention of the faculty and other educational opportunities.

A second noticeable difference is the college environment at each of these schools.  Oxford is very much a college town whose main attraction is the University itself.  There are various beautiful old buildings scattered throughout the town that denote different colleges but are still part of the whole of the University.  San Diego State is one of three major universities in the extensive city of San Diego.  Its campus is not scattered throughout the city but is a collective cluster of buildings.  Furthermore, San Diego is not known as a college town.  When you think San Diego, you instinctively picture amazing summer weather and beautiful beaches rather than the universities in the area.  When you think Oxford, the world-renowned university immediately comes to mind.  Although there are many other differences between SDSU and Oxford, the differences in teaching styles and the differences in the town life are two very significant ones.  

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