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Understanding the American Education System

The American education system offers many options for international students. When you start your search, students can get overwhelmed with what university to go to, what program to choose, and location. Therefore it is very important to get to know the education system in America. Understanding this system will help you to narrow down your study options and build your study plan.

Educational Structure

To continue to higher education, American students enter primary and secondary schools within 12 years. These years are referred to as grades 1 to 12. Around 6 years of age, U.S. children. starting primary school, which is known as “elementary school.” They enter primary school for five or six years and then continue with secondary school.

Secondary schools consist of two programs: the first program is “middle school” or “junior high school” and the second program is “high school bandarqq.” Students get a diploma or certificate after graduating from high school. After graduating from high school (grade 12), U.S. students can go on to college (2-year college) or university. Colleges or universities are known as “higher education.”

Like any American student, you must submit an academic transcript as part of the application for admission to a university or college. Eligible academic transcripts are an official statement of your academic grades. In the US, academic transcripts include “grade (grade)” and “Grade Point Average (GPA), which is a measure of your academic achievement. Subjects are usually assessed using percentages, which are later converted into letter grading.

The grading system and GPA in the U.S. can be confusing, especially for international students. The assessment interpretation has many variations. For example, two students who enter different schools submit their transcripts to the same university. They both have a GPA of 3.5, but the first student enters a high school that is mediocre, while the second student enters a school that is outstanding. Universities can interpret their GPA scores differently because the two schools have dramatic differences in standards.

Therefore, there are some important things to remember:

– You should seek information on U.S. assessments. equivalent to the last level of education you completed in your home country.

– Pay particular attention to the admission requirements of each university and college, as well as individual undergraduate programs, which may have different requirements from universities.

– Meet regularly with the education advisor or counselor to make sure you meet all requirements.

Your education advisor or counselor can provide guidance on whether you should spend an additional year or two preparing for admission to a U.S. university or college. in meeting the requirements for university entry in their home country, some government agencies and companies do not recognize U.S. education.

Academic year

The lecture calendar usually starts in August or September and continues through May or June. Most new students start in the fall, so it’s best for international students to start at the same time. The early days of lectures were fun times for students. It is a time when you will find new friends, all of whom are still adjusting to a new phase in their academic life. Most courses are designed for students to take sequentially, starting in the fall and then continuing throughout the year.

The academic year consists of two terms which are referred to as “semesters.” (some colleges use a three-term calendar called the “trimester” system). Others use a quaternary system of four terms, including the summer selection session. Basically, you are not counting summer sessions, the academic year consists of two semesters or three quarter terms.


U.S. Higher Education System: Education Level
First Level: Undergraduate (S1)

Students who enter a college or university and do not obtain a bachelor’s degree (S1), pursue education at the undergraduate level. It takes an average of four years to obtain a bachelor’s degree. You can start your studies to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a community college (2-year college) or at a 4-year university or college.

In the first two years, you will be required to take classes in different subjects, known as prerequisite courses: literature, science, social sciences, art, history, and so on. This will help you gain general knowledge, as a basis for specializing in a more specific field of study.

Many students choose a community college to complete the first two years of prerequisite courses. They will earn an Associate of Arts (AA) transfer degree and can then transfer to a 4-year university or college.

A “major” is a specific field of study in which your education will be more directed. For example, if someone’s major is journalism, they will earn a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. You will be required to take several courses in this field in order to meet the degree requirements of the major. You must choose your major at the beginning of year 3.

The American education system has a very unique character in that you can change your major more than once. It is natural for American students to change major because they are superior or more interested in a particular field at some point in their undergraduate studies. Although the American education system is very flexible, it should be noted that switching majors may require taking more courses, which is more time consuming and costly.

Second Level: Graduate to pursue a Masters Degree (S2)

Currently, colleges or university graduates with a bachelor’s degree should think seriously about graduate education to enter a specialized profession or advance their career. This degree is usually mandatory for higher positions in library science, mechanical engineering, behavioral health and education.

Furthermore, international students from some countries are only allowed to study abroad at the graduate level. You should investigate the credential requirements for finding employment in your country before applying to a postgraduate university in the U.S.

Graduate programs are usually a division of a university or college. To increase your chances of admission, you will need to take the GRE (Postgraduate Marks Test). Some master’s programs require specific grades, such as the LSAT for law, the GRE or GMAT for business, and the MCAT for medicine.

Graduate programs to pursue a master’s degree generally take a year or two. For example, the MBA (Master of Business) is a very popular program that can take two years. Other master’s programs, such as journalism, only take one year.

Most master’s programs are taught in the classroom and graduate students must prepare a fairly lengthy essay called a “master’s thesis” or complete a “master’s project.”

Third Level: Graduate (Postgraduate) to pursue a Doctorate Degree (Doktoral / S3)

Achieving a master’s degree is the first step to obtaining a PhD (doctoral) degree. In some universities, students can enter the doctoral level without obtaining a master’s degree. PhD degrees can be obtained in three years or more. For international students, it can take five or six years.

In the first two years, most doctoral candidates register for classes and seminars. At least one year is spent on research and writing a thesis or dissertation consisting of an unpublished view, plan, or research.

The doctoral dissertation is a discussion and conclusion of a given topic. Most universities that have doctoral programs also require their candidates to have the ability to read two foreign languages, to spend the required time “in residence,” to pass tests given to candidates for PhD programs, and to pass the tests. oral in the same topic as the dissertation.

Characteristics of the U.S. Higher Education System

“One of the challenges is your way to enroll in classes and build an academic plan. I didn’t know what to study because I could choose a lot of programs. I met Angela Khoo (Academic Advisor) about the classes I could take. , and things just got easier for me. ”

Classes range from large classes of several hundred students to smaller classes and seminars (discussions) of only a few students. American universities’ classrooms have a dynamic atmosphere. You are expected to share and defend your opinion, participate in class discussions and give presentations. International students find this one of the most surprising aspects of the American education system.

Each week, professors provide textbooks and materials to read. You are expected to be up-to-date so that you can participate in class discussions and understand the lessons given. Certain programs also require students to spend time in the laboratory.

Professors assign grades to each student who takes the course. These values ​​are usually based on:

a) Each professor has different class participation requirements, but students are expected to participate in discussions, especially in seminar classes. Often this is a very important factor in determining value.
b) Mid-semester examinations are usually given during lecture hours.
c) One of several research or laboratory reports should be sent for evaluation.
d) Short exams or quizzes. Once in a while the professor would give a “surprise exam.” This sudden exam does not have a big effect in calculating grades, but aims to inspire students not to fall behind in their assigned assignments and attendance.
e) Final examinations will be held after the last class meeting.

Each subject has a specific credit score. This figure corresponds to the amount of time spent in class on that course each week. Courses usually have three to five credit scores.

Full-time courses at most colleges are 12 or 15 credits (four or five courses per term) and certain courses must be taken as a requirement for graduation. International students are expected to enroll in the full-time program every term.

If a student applies to a new university before earning a degree, any credits earned can be used to earn a degree at the new university. This means that students can transfer to other universities and graduate at the same time.


1. University or State College
Public universities are supported and run by the state or local government. Every 50 U.S. states has at least one public university and several public colleges. Many of these public colleges have the name of the state, or the word “state” in the name of their college: for example, Washington State University and the University of Michigan.

2. Universities or private colleges
This college is run privately. Tuition fees are usually higher than public universities. Often times, private U.S. universities and colleges smaller than public universities.

Religion-related universities and colleges are private colleges. This college accepts students of different religions and beliefs. However, there are some universities that expect to accept students with the same beliefs.

3. Community College (Two Year College)
A community college is a two-year college that awards transferable associate degrees (diplomas), as well as certifications. There are many types of associate degrees, but the differentiating factor is whether or not the degree is transferable. Typically, there are two primary degree pathways: one for academic transfer and the other for preparing students for hands-on employment. Transferable university degrees are generally an associate of arts (arts diploma) or an associate of science (science diploma). Non-transferable are the associate of applied science degrees and certificates of completion.

Community college graduates generally transfer to a 4-year college or university to earn a degree. Because they can transfer credits that have been completed at a community college, they can complete the bachelor’s program in two years or more. Many also offer ESL or intensive English language programs, which will prepare students for university-level courses.

If you are not planning to earn an advanced degree from an associate, you will have to find out if an associate’s degree will be useful for finding work in your home country.

4. Institute of Technology (Institute of Technology)
An Institute of Technology is a college that provides science and technology education for at least four years. Some have graduate programs, others offer short-term courses.