American Education System


In the first place, American education is known thanks to its high-quality higher education, given the fact that many of its universities appear to be the leading ones in the world (read more here). Yet, the United States can also boast to have a highly diverse education system. In this country, public, private, and international schools function alongside each other (keep in mind that the word “school” is referred to any educational establishment in the United States). This article is aimed to give you a better understanding of the American education system and the way it functions.

General Overview of the American Education System

When it comes to the matter of education in the United States, there is a strong pressure to push for greater goals in the American society. This results in the fact that more than 85 percent of the American students finish the high school. Over 55 percent of the students graduate from colleges (universities), and this appears to be higher than in many developed countries.

The full-time education of children is compulsory in every American state. This is applicable not only to the American children, but also to the children of foreign nationals who moved to the United States permanently or temporary residents who have resided in America for at least a year. But even then, it is not sure whether a child will be granted an admission to the American public schools – this largely depends on the type of the parents’ visas.

Depending on the state your children are going to study at, compulsory schooling lasts between 8 and 13 years. Typically, compulsory schooling starts at the age of 6 and ends at the age of 16-18. Typically, American children spend as much as 12 years on education on the average. Though, this indicator tends to be much lower in towns and rural areas, while being high in large cities and metropolises.

The American Education System and Higher Education

Typically, enrolling in a university in the United States means that you already have studied for 13 years and received a diploma after graduating from the high school. As in many developed countries, higher education within the American education system follows the same three-level structure: Bachelor’s degree (or undergraduate studies), Master’s degree (or graduate studies), and PhD (postgraduate studies).

In order to attempt enrolling in an American college, you must be no younger than 18 years old. However, the statistics shows that the average age of those who study in the American universities is 25 years old. In the United States, there are more than 3,500 accredited institutions (universities, institutes, academies, and colleges) that provide higher education, each of which offers a large variety of programs (that come with particular – and sometimes very high – requirements).

education system in the united states

The American education system can boast its high quality thanks to a few dozen of excellent higher educational institutions

The majority of students in the United States study in public universities (12 million out of 15 million), which is associated with the high tuition fees that are incurred by the students in private universities. However, it is also notable that as many as more than 500,000 students are international. American universities recruit them in all parts of the worlds, but in such countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the UK in the first place.

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What Makes American Higher Education Stand Out

While the European education system can boast really top-notch school systems in comparison to the American one, the American higher education system dominates all others. That can be clearly seen in any international ranking of the world’s best universities. The first thing that makes American universities stand out, among others, is the fact that the most prestigious universities in the United States are private. It means that the government does not give a single penny to them, and there are two most common ways of funding for such universities: endowments and tuition fees. Exactly this fact makes the higher education in the United States so expensive.

If you are looking for a prestigious American university to enroll in, you should think about the Ivy League universities, which include Yale, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia, and Brown. Even though many people and students criticize that those universities can boast such popularity due to their fame but not the quality of education, it appears to be a proven fact that a diploma from any of those universities will positively affect your employment chances.

Among other universities you should pay attention to, there are Massachusetts Institute of Technology (known simply as MIT), the California Institute of Technology (shortened as Caltech), and Stanford University. Considering that all those universities occupy places in the top 5 world’s best universities rankings, they are, indeed, worth your attention. There is also a group of universities known as “Seven Sisters,” as each that college had been previously designed only for females. Those colleges include Wellesley, Vassar, Smith, Radcliffe, Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, and Barnand.

Specialties of the American Higher Education

The fact that makes the American education system differ from other education systems (especially European ones) is the following: the American education system strives to keep students within the higher education system even after their graduation from college, while European education systems tend to push such students out. Though, it must be also noted that the academic standards for obtaining a Bachelor’s degree are much lower in the United States than in Europe. There are American colleges that accept almost any graduate from the high school, and this fact has substantially devalued American diplomas.

Yet, graduate and post-graduate schools (Master’s and PhD degrees) in the United States are not less competitive than in any other country. Vast wages of professors in the American universities are a guarantee that students receive an education of the highest quality. Besides, such huge expenses on the staff salaries allow to drain talented professors from abroad.

Within the American education system, professors enjoy a great deal of autonomy, which allows them to teach the way they want and using the methods/techniques they want. After all, studying in an American university also implies a great deal of practice – much bigger deal than, perhaps, in any European university.


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