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International students have many options in the American education system. The number of schools, programs, and locations can overwhelm international students, and it’s not uncommon for them to be overwhelmed by the options. Knowing the system will help narrow down your options and create your education plan.

The Educational Structure

 Primary and secondary school American students go to primary and secondary school together for 12 years before pursuing higher education. These years are known as the first through 12th grades. At six years old, U.S. children start primary school, also known as “elementary school.” After five to six years, they move on to secondary school.

 Secondary school is composed of two programs. The first is called “middle school” (or “junior high school”), and the second is “high school.” High school graduates are awarded a diploma or certificate. Students from the United States can go to college or university after completing high school (12th grade). Higher education is also known as college or university studies.

 Grading System

Your academic transcripts will be required, just like American students. Official copies of your academic work are called academic transcripts. This includes your “grades” or “grade point average (GPA) in the United States. These are measures of academic achievement. Grades are often given using percentages which are then converted into letter grades.International students may find the U.S. grading system and GPA confusing. There are many ways to interpret grades. Two students from different schools may submit transcripts to the same university. Both students have 3.5 GPAs. However, one student went to a middle-high school and the other to a school with a strong academic record. Because the standards of these two schools are very different, the university may interpret their GPAs differently.

  There are some important things to remember:

  Find out the U.S. equivalent to the level of education you have completed in your country.

  Pay attention to each college’s admission requirements and the requirements for individual degree programs.

  Meet with a guidance counsellor or educational advisor regularly to ensure you meet all requirements.

 Your guidance counsellor or educational advisor will advise you whether you should spend another year preparing for U.S. university entrance. Some countries may not recognize international students who have entered the U.S. college or university before they are eligible to study in their home country.

 Academic Year

 The school year usually starts in August or September and goes through May or June. Most new students start in the autumn. It is, therefore, a great idea for international students they also begin their U.S. university educations at this time. Students form great friendships as they adjust to the new academic phase. There is lots of excitement at the start of the school year. Many courses can be taken in a sequence by students, beginning in the autumn and continuing throughout the year.

 Many schools have two terms, called “semesters,” while others use a three-term calendar known as “trimester.” Others further split the year into four times, including an optional summer session. The academic year can be divided into either two semesters or three-quarter terms if the summer session is not included.

 The U.S. Higher Education System: Levels Of Study

First Level: Undergraduate

 Students who are enrolled at a college or university but have not completed a bachelor’s degree are considered to be studying at the undergraduate level. A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years, and either you can start your bachelor’s studies at a community college or at a four-year college or university.

 In your first two years of college, you will be required to take many classes in various subjects. These courses are commonly called prerequisite courses, and this is to ensure that you have a broad knowledge of many issues before focusing on one particular area of study.

 Many students prefer to study at a community college to complete their prerequisite courses. They will receive an Associate of Arts (A.A.), transfer degree, and transfer to a four-year university or college.

 The specific area of study that your degree is focused on is called a “major”. If someone majors in journalism, they will be awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. To fulfil your major requirements, you will need to take certain courses in the field. Your third year of school will be your last.

 The American higher education system has a unique feature: you can change your major as many times as possible. American students are very likely to change their majors during their undergraduate studies, and students often discover a new field they are passionate about. American education is flexible. It would help if you kept in mind that changing majors can lead to more courses which could mean more money and more time.

Second Level: A Graduate in Pursuit a Master’s Degree

 A college or university graduate with a bachelor’s degree might want to consider graduate studies to further their education or pursue certain careers. This degree is often required for higher-level engineering, education, and behavioural health positions.

 International students cannot study abroad as graduate students in certain countries. Before applying for a postgraduate degree at a university in the USA, verify your credentials.

 Graduate programs are usually offered by a college or university division. You will need to pass the GRE (graduate record exam) to be admitted. Some master’s programs require you to take specific tests such as the LSAT or GMAT for law school, business school and medical school.

 Master’s programs for graduate studies typically take between one and two years. The MBA (master’s in business administration) is a popular degree program and takes approximately two years, and journalism, for example, takes only one year to complete.

 A majority of a master’s program is spent in-class study. Graduate students must write a lengthy research paper, called a “masters thesis”, or complete a project.

Third Level: A Graduate in Pursuit a Doctorate Degree

 A master’s degree is considered the first step to a PhD (doctorate) at many graduate schools. Some schools allow students to prepare for a doctorate directly without completing a master’s. A PhD degree can take up to three years, and it may take five to six years for international students.

 Most doctoral candidates enrol in seminars and classes during the first two years. Another year is spent doing firsthand research and writing a thesis. The paper must include views, designs, or analyses not published previously.

 A doctoral dissertation summarises and discusses current scholarship on a topic. The majority of U.S. universities that award doctorates require their candidates to have at least a basic understanding of English and two languages to be able to read. They also need to pass a qualifying exam to officially admit candidates to the PhD program.

 The U.S. Higher Education System Characteristics

 Classroom Environment

 There are many classes, from lectures with hundreds of students to small seminars with a handful of students. American universities are very lively. It is expected that you will share your opinions, argue your points, participate in class discussions, and give presentations. This is a surprising aspect of American education.

 Professors often assign readings and textbooks each week. To participate in class discussions and understand lectures, you must be up-to-date on the homework and required tasks. Some degree programs require that students spend time in the lab.

  Each student in a course is assigned a grade by the professor. The following are the most common bases for rates:

  Each professor will have their own class participation requirements. However, students are expected to participate in class discussions, particularly in seminar classes. This is often an important factor in determining a student€™s grade.

During class, a midterm examination will usually be given.

  You must submit one or more term papers or laboratory reports for evaluation.

   Some short quizzes and exams can be taken. Sometimes professors will offer a “pop quiz” that doesn’t count towards the grade but encourages students to attend class and keep up with assignments.

  After the last class meeting, a final examination is held.


 Each course has a set number of credit hours or credits, and this is approximately the same number as the hour’s students spend in class each week for the course. A course typically has three to five credits.

 Most schools offer a full-time program that is 12 to 15 credit hours. This means you must complete a certain amount of credits to graduate. Students from abroad must enrol in a full-time program each term.


 Students can transfer credits from one school to another university if they have not completed a degree. A student can transfer to another university while still constructing a degree in a reasonable amount of time.

 There are many types of higher education in the United States.

 1. State College or University

 A state school is managed and supported by the state or local government. Each state has at least one state college and possibly more. These public universities schools often have the state’s name or the actual word “State”, such as Washington State University or the University of Michigan.

 2. Private Colleges or Universities

 These schools are run privately and not by an agency of the government. The tuition will be generally higher than that of state schools. Private colleges and universities in the United States are often smaller than state schools.

 Private schools are not available at religiously affiliated colleges and universities. Nearly all of these schools accept students from all faiths and religions. However, some schools prefer students with similar religious beliefs to those found.

 3. Community College

 Two-year community colleges offer associate’s degrees that can be transferred and certifications. There are many types and types of associate degrees. However, the most important distinction is whether the degree can be shared. There will usually be two main degree tracks. One is for academic transfer, and the other is for students who want to go into the workforce immediately. Associate of arts and associate of science degrees are the most common university transfer degrees. Associate of applied science degrees, certificates of completion and certificates of completion are not transferable.

 Most community college graduates transfer to four-year colleges and universities to finish their degrees. They can transfer credits earned at community colleges, which allows them to complete their bachelor’s program in as little as two years. Many colleges offer ESL or intensive English language programs that prepare students to take university-level courses.

 You should not expect to get a higher degree than an associate’s. Instead, find out if an Associate’s degree is sufficient to qualify you for employment in your country.

 4. Institute of Technology

 A school known as an institute of technology offers at least four years of education in technology and science. Some offer graduate programs, while others offer short-term courses.


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