Academic life in the USA

You may find the American classroom culture to be more casual than that of your home country. Keep in mind, however, that every professor and class is different. Below you’ll find some basic tenets of a higher education in the USA.

Academic integrity

Honesty is a critical piece of academic culture in the USA and part of Northeastern University’s standards/expectations for all students. Northeastern University expects all students to submit answers or written work that reflects their personal understanding and research. References to other people’s work require citations within the assignment and on a reference sheet. Each instructor has different expectations regarding citations, so students should make sure to understand the expectations of their individual instructors.

Snell Library provides information on proper resources and citations, and librarians are available by email, online chat, text and in person to help with any further questions.

Cheating, i.e. having someone else write your papers or take your exams, giving or receiving answers during an exam, and/or submitting someone else’s work as your own (plagiarism) is unacceptable. Using English language translation services to edit your work is also dishonest since your language proficiency is a requirement of your studies.

Infractions of the standards of academic integrity, no matter how minor, carry serious consequences ranging from a failing grade on a paper or exam to suspension or expulsion from the university. Learning for the sake of learning, exploring intellectually to develop a deeper understanding, and challenging yourself to think independently build academic honesty and integrity.

Northeastern University’s Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution publishes the university’s academic integrity policy and presents examples of plagiarism and cheating.

If you have questions about Academic Integrity at Northeastern, please consult with your instructors, academic advisers, administrators within your college, or staff in the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.

Classroom expectations

Professors will include their office hours in the syllabus, and it is common for students to attend these when needed throughout the semester, to discuss and answer questions or concerns with the course.

Consistent communication with your academic adviser is essential. Academic advisors will assist you in registering for courses and staying on track for graduation. They can also work with you to change your major or add majors/minors if you are interested in doing so.

We encourage you to use academic resources such as the Writing CenterTutoring Services, and English as a Second Language Programs as often as you need. Please visit your individual college websites for college-specific tutoring programs and resources.

Active preparation and participation

Active participation is expected in most American classrooms and is generally a portion of the student’s final grade. Lack of participation can be interpreted as your misunderstanding or disinterest in the material or class. Constant attendance and arriving to class on time is expected. Absences or late arrivals are frequently met with a lowering of a student’s grade. We recommend you read the syllabus of each course closely to determine how many absences are/are not allowed in each of your courses. Independent and critical thinking are promoted in the classroom. Come to class with all assigned readings and coursework complete and be ready to discuss your thoughts. Get to know your professor’s style and expectations; they will vary from class to class.

Independent thinking

As you pursue your studies, you should critique theories, evaluate options, formulate models, and challenge yourself. Bring your conclusions and questions to class and share your insights with your classmates and professors.