Characteristics of the U.S. Higher Education System

Class room

"One challenge is the way you register for classes and build an academic plan. I didn't know what to learn because I could choose many programs. I met Angela Khoo (Academic Advisor) about classes that I can take , and everything is easier for me. "
Meiyun Han, China
Nursing Study, Merit College (part of the Peralta Community College District).

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Classes range from large classes attended by several hundred students to smaller classes and seminars (discussions) attended by only a few students. Classrooms at American universities have a dynamic atmosphere. You are expected to share and defend your opinions, participate in class discussions and give presentations. International students regard this as one of the surprising aspects in the American education system.

Every week, the professor gives text books and materials to read. You are expected to be always up-to-date so that you can participate in class discussions and understand the lessons provided. Certain programs also require students to spend time in the laboratory.

The professors provide grades for each student who follows the course. These values ​​are usually based on:
  • 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.
  • Mid-semester exams are usually given in class hours.
  • One of several studies or laboratory reports must be sent for evaluation.
  • Short exam or quiz. Once upon a time the professor will give a "sudden test." This sudden test does not have a big effect on the calculation of values, but aims to inspire students not to miss out on the tasks given and their presence.
  • The final exam will be held after the last class meeting.

Each course has certain credit values. This number has similarities with the amount of time spent in the class for the course every week. Courses usually have three to five credit scores.

Full-time programs in most colleges number 12 or 15 credits (four or five per term courses) and certain subjects must be taken as a requirement to graduate. International students are expected to register in the full-time program each term.

If students apply to a new university before getting a degree, any credit obtained can be used to obtain a degree at a new university. This means that students can transfer to other universities and graduate at the same time.
Types of American Higher Education

1. Universities or State Universities
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 state colleges. Many of these state universities have names from states, or the word "state" in their college name: for example, Washington State University and the University of Michigan.

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

Universities and colleges related to religion are private colleges. This college accepts students of different religions and beliefs. But there are a small number of tertiary institutions that are more willing to accept students who share the same belief.

3. Community College (Two-Year College)
Community colleges are two-year colleges that provide transferable associate degrees (diplomas), as well as certifications. There are many types of associate degrees, but the distinguishing factor is whether the degree can be transferred or not. Usually, there are two primary degree paths: one for academic transfers and the other for preparing students to get a job directly. University degrees that can be transferred are generally associate of arts (art diploma) or associate of science (science diploma). What cannot be transferred is the associate of applied science degree (application science diploma) and certificate of completion.

Graduates of community colleges generally transfer to a 4-year college or university to get a degree. Because they can transfer credits that have been completed at a community college, they can complete a bachelor program within two years or more. Many also offer ESL or intensive English language programs, which will prepare students for university level courses.

If you do not plan to get a higher degree than an associate, you must find out whether an associate's degree will be useful for finding employment in your home country.

4. Institute of Technology
The 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.