Understanding the American Education System

The American education system offers many choices for international students. When you start a search, students can be overwhelmed in choosing the university they want 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 your study choices and build your study plan.
Educational Structure
Primary and Secondary Schools

To continue to higher education, American students enter primary and secondary schools within 12 years. These years are called grade 1 to 12. Around the age of 6, U.S. children starting primary school, which is referred to as "elementary school (elementary school)." They entered elementary school for five or six years and then continued with secondary school.

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Secondary schools consist of two programs: the first program is "middle school" or "junior high school" and the second program is "high school." Students get a diploma or certificate after graduating from high school. After graduating high school (grade 12), U.S. students can continue to college (2-year college) or university. College or university is known as a "higher education."
Scoring system

Like American students, you must send academic transcripts as part of the registration for admission to university or college. Academic transcripts that meet the requirements are official statements of your academic value. 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 will later be converted into letter rating.

Scoring system and GPA in U.S. can be confusing, especially for international students. Assessment interpretation has many variations. For example, two students entering different schools send their transcripts to the same university. They both have GPA 3.5, but the first student enters an ordinary high school, while the second student enters a high school. Universities can interpret their GPA values ​​differently because both schools have dramatic standard differences.

Therefore, there are some important things to remember:

You must find information about U.S. assessments. which is commensurate with the last level of education that you have completed in your home country.
Pay more attention to the admission requirements of each university and college, as well as individual bachelor programs, which may have different requirements from the university.
Face to face regularly with an education advisor or counselor to ensure that you meet all the requirements.

An education counselor or counselor can provide guidance to decide whether you should spend an additional one or two years preparing for U.S. university or college admission. in fulfilling the requirements to enter university in their home country, some government agencies and companies do not know U.S. education.

Academic year

The lecture calendar usually starts in August or September and continues until May or June. Most students just start in the fall, so international students should also start at the same time. The beginning of the lecture period, was a pleasant moment for students. These are times when you will find new friends, where all are still adjusting to the new phase in their academic life. Most courses are designed for students to be taken sequentially, starting in autumn and then continuing throughout the year.

The academic year consists of two terms called "semesters." (some universities use three calendar terms called the "trimester" system). Some use a quarter-term quarterly system, including a summer selection session. Basically, you don't count the summer session, the academic year consists of two semesters or three quarter terms.
U.S. Higher Education System .: Education Level

First Level: Undergraduate (S1)

Students entering a college or university and not getting a bachelor's degree (S1), study at the undergraduate level. It takes an average of four years to get a bachelor's degree. You can start your education to pursue a bachelor's degree at a community college (2-year college) or at a university or college with a 4-year study.

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 get knowledge in general, as a basis for specializing in more specific fields of study.

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

"Major" is a specific field of study where your education will be more directed. For example, if someone's major is journalism, they will get a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (Bachelor of Arts in Journalism). You will be required to take several courses in this field in fulfilling the requirements of obtaining a degree at the major. You must choose your major at the beginning of the 3rd year.

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 major change because they are superior or more interested in certain fields at a time in their undergraduate studies. Even though the American education system is very flexible, it should be noted that in major changes they may have to take courses again, which means that it will take more time and money.

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

At present, colleges or graduates of bachelor's degrees must think seriously about the education of graduates to enter special professions or to improve their careers. This degree is usually mandatory for higher positions in library science, mechanical engineering, behavioral health and education.

Furthermore, international students from several countries are only permitted to study abroad at the graduate level. You should investigate the credential requirements to get a job in your country before applying to the U.S. postgraduate (S3) university.

Graduate programs are usually divisions of universities or colleges. To increase opportunities for admission, you need to take the GRE (Test of Postgraduate Values). Some master programs require certain grades, such as LSAT for law, GRE or GMAT for business, and MCAT for medicine.

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

Most master's programs are taught in the classroom and graduate students must prepare a lengthy essay called "master's thesis (master's thesis)" or complete "master's project (master project)."

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

Achieving a master's degree is the first step to obtaining a PhD (doctoral). In several universities, students can enter the doctoral level without obtaining a master's degree. A PhD can be obtained within 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 for one year spent on research and writing a thesis or dissertation consisting of views, plans, or research that have never been published.

Doctoral dissertation is a discussion and conclusion of the topic given. Most universities that have doctoral programs also require their candidates to have the ability to read in two foreign languages, to spend the required time "in residence", to pass the test given to candidates to the PhD program, and to pass the test oral on the same topic with the dissertation.