International Students can really benefit from the American Education System and it provides them with a large gamut of academic choices. The American Education system offers a platter of schools, programs, and locations that may overwhelm not just international but also US students as well. While you are in the process of your school search it makes good sense to familiarize yourself with the US education system as this understanding will help you in narrowing down your search and go for the school and course of your choice and liking.
THE STRUCTURE OF EDUCATION IN THE US
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL
American school students have to attend primary and secondary school for a total of 12 years prior to going for higher education. These years start from the 1st to 12th grades.
For US school students’ primary school starts at age six and this schooling is called elementary school. The students attend elementary school for 5 or 6 years and then go on to secondary school.
The secondary school has 2 programs which include middle school and junior high school. Students are awarded a diploma upon graduating from high school. After graduating from 12th grade or high school, students can choose to go for higher education which includes graduation and masters and Doctorate in some cases
In the US schooling system students are allotted Grades and grade point average or GPA which are a measurement of the students’ academic achievement. The initial grading is done through percentages which are later converted into grades. The grading system also differs from school to school and Universities may consider the standard of the school before accepting the grades.
THE ACADEMIC YEAR
Schools begin in August or September and continue till May or June. There is a buzz in the air during these starting months and many friendships are formed as students adjust to their new academic life
The academic year in most schools consists of semesters which includes 2 terms. Some schools have 3 semesters and some others have 4 terms which include an optional summer session.
THE HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM IN THE US
A student who has completed his 12th grade and is studying in a college or university and still does not have a bachelor’s degree is studying at the undergraduate level. The bachelor’s degree takes 4 years to complete.
In the first 2 years, the student will be required to take a variety of classes in different subjects and this is known as the prerequisite courses which include: literature, science, the social sciences, the arts, history, and so on.
A ‘major’ is the specific field of study on which your course focuses. You will next have to undergo a certain number of courses and classes to meet the degree requirements for a major.
You can also switch your majors but this will lead to you attending more courses and thus more time and money. The American education system is very flexible in this regard but changing majors has its drawbacks.
LEVEL 2-PURSUING MASTERS DEGREE
Students take up a master’s degree to enhance their career prospects and to enter certain professions. A Masters’s is mandatory for higher-level posts in engineering, health, and education.
Most international students are only allowed to study at graduate levels in the USA.
To gain admission for a Masters’s course you will have to take the GRE or Graduate Record Exam. Also, some programs require specific tests like LSAT for law and GRE or GMAT for B schools and an MCAT for Medical School.
Masters degrees usually take 2 years to complete and degrees like MBA are very popular with students
Most of the master’s program is spent in classroom studies and students have to prepare a long research paper known as the master’s thesis or they have to complete a master’s project.
LEVEL 3-PURSUING DOCTORAL DEGREE
The student has to have a Master’s degree to pursue a Doctorate but some students can go for a Doctorate straight after their graduation and it takes 3 years more to complete the Doctorate this way. A Doctorate takes 5 to 6 years for International Students
The first 2 years are all classroom activities and seminars and one full year are spent conduction original research and writing a thesis. The thesis should be original and should not have plagiarism.
EDUCATION CULTURE IN THE US
CLASS CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT
There are a variety of different classes held. They range from large lectures with many hundreds of students and also some lectures having a limited number of students apart from small classes and seminars and discussions which have only a few students.
The classroom atmosphere is very dynamic and students are expected to share their ideas, points of view, opinions, and perspectives while participating in the class discussions and giving presentations. This is one of the most unique and attractive features of the American Education system.
Students are provided with home assignments and reading materials and also have to give presentations at regular intervals. In some courses, students will also have to do work in the laboratory.
The Professors give grades to students based on Class Participation, Midterm Exams, Research papers, quizzes, and final exams.
Every course has a certain number of credits or credit hours assigned to it. It describes the number of hours the student has spent in the class for a particular course each week. Most courses have 3 to 5 credits.
In a full-time program in most of the schools the credits range from 12 to 15 credit hours and a minimum number of credits are required to graduate.
In case the student enrolls in a new university before completing his graduation in his previous University then credits earned in the earlier University can be used to complete the course at the new University. This saves the students from repeat lectures and time wastage so that he can finish his course on time.
Thus as we can see the American Education system is advanced and one of the best in the world. Students from many different countries come to the US to study in its elite Universities and Schools. American Education has certainly made a name for itself and having a Masters or a Doctorate from a US University is certainly an advantage professionally and personally.