US Education

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US Education system - Higher education

The US higher educational institution consists of 4 years:
 
Freshman/1st year - Sophomore/2nd year: General Education and Pre-major
Junior/3rd year - Senior/4th year: Major study
 
Semester/Quarter System
 
Many schools in the USA have a two-semester system, each semester lasting for roughly 15-17 weeks. The fall semester usually starts in late-August or September, and finishes just before or after Christmas. The spring semester begins in early- to mid-January and runs until May or sometimes June. 

Some schools use a semester system called the quarter system, each quarter lasting for about 10 weeks. There are also schools which schedule three-semester academic years, where each semester is 10-12 weeks
 
Academic requirements
 
Admission requirements vary between universities and colleges in the United States. The students must have graduated from secondary school. They have to fulfill the requirements for the specific education course to which you are applying. Most schools require results from a test like the SAT Reasoning Test (Scholastic Assessment/Aptitude Test), which is a standardized test for university admissions.

All Community Colleges and many universities do not need the SAT. Take for example, Albright College will accept students provide you are a high school graduate. These give a lot of advantages to overseas students.
 
Language requirements
 
Some schools in the US accept that you have obtained certificates at sufficiently high standard in English from secondary school. Many universities require that you complete a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test to prove your English skills.
 
Again, many community colleges do not need applicant to sit for the official English test as they provide the English as a Secondary course for them.
 
Credit System

Each course you take at a university in the USA is counted as a certain number of credits, also called hours or units. The students normally need between 130 (under Semester system) and 180 credits (under Quarter system) to graduate.

One credit is equal to 50 minutes of class time per week; completing a class that meets 3 times every week is equal to earning 3 credits. Full-time students usually earn 15 credits every semester. Students are assigned an academic advisor at the school who helps plan their credits and courses.

Grading System

Almost everything you do for a class in the United States effect your grade. Essays, written assignments, laboratory reports, class attendance and class participation, test and examinations.

The grade scale is usually from either A to F. For each grade, you need certain percentages. For example, to get an A (or 4) on a test, you usually need to correctly answer 90-100 % of the questions, to get a B (or 3), you need 80-90%, and so on. Other common grades are:
  
•I = incomplete
 
•W = withdrawal
 
•Audit = enroll in the course for no credit or grade, but attend class and complete assignments
 
•Pass/ Fail = enroll in the course for either a Pass or a Fail grade
 
Pass/ No Credit = enroll in the course for either a Pass or a No Credit grade, with no negative points
 
Examinations are usually given once in the middle of the term and once at the end. Professors often give short quizzes or tests in between, with or without notice. Many times you must write a research paper or complete a project assignment toward your final grade.
 
Grade point average (GPA) is a common measurement of grade in universities and colleges in the United States. The scale is from 0 to 4.0; students with a 4.0 GPA being the highest grade overall in every class.
 

 
Note 1: three major philosophical beliefs that shape American public life.
 
1. Informed by the Jeffersonian ideals of limited government and freedom of expression, states, religious communities, and individuals established and maintain a range of higher education institutions and continue to protect these institutions from the levels of government control seen in most other countries.
 
2. The second set of influences is capitalism and the belief in the rationality of markets. American colleges and universities vie for students, faculty, and funding under the assumption that diversity and high quality are best achieved through competition rather than centralized planning.

3. The final major philosophical influence on American higher education is a widespread commitment to equal opportunity and social mobility. Higher education was an elite activity for much of its history, excluding individuals based on gender, religion, race/ethnicity, and social class. However, during the 20th century, economic and social changes transformed higher education into a primary gateway to the middle-class, and women and minorities made inroads against longstanding exclusion from mainstream higher education. Americans came to view broad access to higher education as a necessary component of the nation’s ideal as a “land of opportunity.”

Sources:
http://www.educations.com/USA_Education_Institutes__d5779.html

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