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Understanding The US Educational System

The American educational system is comprised of the following levels of schooling:

  • pre-school (nursery school) - ages 3-5
  • kindergarten - ages 5-6
  • elementary school - 1st grade thru 6th grade - ages 6-11
  • middle school ("junior high school") 7th-9th grades - ages 12-15
  • high school - 10th - 12th grades - ages 16-18
  • college - 2 or 4 year post-secondary ("undergraduate") schooling - associate's degree or bachelor's degree
  • Graduate School:
    • Master's Degree - one to two years of post-graduate specialized programs including business, journalism, sciences, humanities, mathematics
    • Professional Degree - post-graduate doctoral degree obtained through a highly specialized course of study such as law (J.D.), medicine (M.D.), psychology (Ph.D.), business administration (M.B.A.), and engineering (M.Eng.)

Types of elementary and secondary schools:

  • Public school - free, funded by public tax dollars
  • Private school - more expensive and exclusive than a public school - offers smaller classes and often more specialized programs
  • Parochial school - a private religious school that incorporates religious training and/or rituals into education (i.e. Catholic schools, Jewish yeshiva)
  • Charter schools - small schools subsidized by public tax dollars but offering a much more intimate learning environment that emphasizes quality

How to choose a quality school for your child:

  • make sure the school is in a safe neighborhood
  • make sure the school is adequately funded - no peeling paint, enough school materials like books, laboratory equipment
  • find out how much the teachers are being paid. Low pay can lead to low morale.
  • examine the various academic and extra-curricular programs offered by the school - does it emphasize languages, arts and music as well as basic subjects like math and english?
  • Visit Greatschools.net, a comprehensive guide to K-12 schools throughout the US. Greatschools.net lets you compare schools, rank them according to performance, learn how to choose the right school for your child and examine reviews by other parents.
  • Start by reading Choosing a School: Seven Steps from Start to Finish.
Understand U.S. Education?

Choose a Good School for my Child?

Choose a Good Pre-school?

Choose a Good Child Care Program?
Apply to a U.S. College?


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