Education in the United States is distinguished with a high level of education, a large-scale popularity of American diplomas, impeccability of English language, and the presence of brilliant opportunities for employment not only in the country of prosperity and unlimited realities but also in various parts of the world. The American educational system is famous for its diversity. Proofs of this are:
- The presence of a multilevel educational system in the United States, which is based on the age principle;
- The diversity of schools with their own special education programs, the content and methodology of education, traditions and philosophy (from a private school to a state-type institution);
- The existence of a set of centers for the acquisition of higher education, attracting students from all over the world due to the high rating.
Common Facts About Education System in America
First of all, you should be sensible of the fact that the country’s federal system of government appreciated the regional administrative authorities in all times. That is why, on a country level, there is no single educational system or curriculum. Every state includes its Department of Education. It adopts all decisions regarding institutions of learning and coordinates all their activities in a certain state.
U.S. public schools are ruled by a school board in every separate school division. Such school boards set rules and policies for a district in charge of which they are. Also, they monitor that all state’s regularities are followed. Usual school district is divisible into the elementary, middle, and high.
Let us take a closer look at high school. On this level, every student has to take various courses in math, English, and broad-ranging kinds of science. It can be also critical to attend gymnastics or theatre courses. One course lengths around one or two semesters. Academic year starts in August and ends in June.
Grading scale can be rather bewildering for an average international student. Primarily, it can puzzle a foreigner due to grades’ signs and its interpretation when man applies to a university. Marks are: A = 4 points, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, and F = 0 points. All these “grades” are calculated and put together a Grade Point Average (GPA). The GPA plays a huge role in the process of going to the college. However, all these marks can be interpreted in the different ways. It depends on the school you have ended and the university where you are going to study in. Consequently, you should take into account following tips:
- Find out the equivalent to your last education institution in your country;
- Elaborately read through all admission requirements as far as they can differ from general guidelines of one university to another;
- Do not neglect the information which can be received from an advisor from college regarding applying process.
Admission to a University
And here we directly come to the subject of admission to a university. As we already mentioned, the policy of every institution in a country can stand out from one to another. Nevertheless, there are basic criteria that are set in most universities:
- High school course of study;
- High school Grade Point Average (GPA);
- Taking part in different activities that are out of usual educational school program;
(Sometimes, this point can play a pivotal role regarding the direction you have chosen. Moreover, it can show that you have already some soft skills and can be a good team player or even leader)
- SAT or ACT exam scores;
(SAT means the Scholastic Aptitude Test and ACT means American College Testing which are taken during the last year in the high school. Each institution has its own minimal score to achieve when applying to university
- Written essay;
(Requirements regarding topic and length are set individually by every university)
- Personal interview.
At the University
Students who are studying at the first, second, third, or fourth level are called “undergraduates.” After they have got their Bachelor’s degree (after fourth course) and being already on a fifth course, they can be named “graduates.”
The first and the second years of educational process in the USA university imply the study of prerequisite courses. Nonetheless, the graduates in law as well as in medicine have rather strict and definite program. After the studying of these courses, you possess adequate knowledge to start studying a more specific field or direction.
It should be mentioned that a chosen as specific by a student program track can be called “major.” So, do not be wondered when hear a question “Have you decided already about a major?” Moreover, the unique feature of American educational system is that you are able to change you “major” during educational process. It shows a flexibility of American educational system that is very democratic regarding professional choice and interests of every student.
It is a common practice supposed by American educational system to cover first two prerequisite courses in a community college, after which man can become an Associate of Arts (AA) degree and after that begin study at once in a usual university or college.
In addition, you should know that every course lasts usually one semester and has a certain quantity of hours for this very subject (“credits”). Credits are defined depending on how many hours per week are spent on this course.
Most professional fields require a master’s degree to hold the high-ranking positions. What is more, some universities, which can be preferred by the foreign students, have only graduate programs for foreigners.
When applying to graduate degree, take note that certain programs in some universities need special tests as:
- LSAT (law);
- GRE or GMAT (business school);
- MCAT (medical area).
Master’s degree implies the education from 1 up to 2 years. Anyway, it all depends on a field of study. For instance, if you are a journalist, it will take just one year to get master’s degree, and when you would like to apply to such popular MBA program, prepare yourself for two years. In the end, usually, a student getting master’s degree needs to defend “master’s thesis” to finish the last step before getting a Doctoral degree. But this already another wider topic for another article.