The US college and HS system - explain it for me

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Ulc
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The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Ulc » Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:35 pm UTC

Okay, so I always get confused when people talk about the US college system, someone care to explain it to me?

With that I mean, how many years in each step of the system?
Why is it that movies, literature and pretty much all sources on the net makes it seem everyone attends college?
Is college even the right term, or do I mean university?

The danish system works like this (yes, im danish)

After basic school you attend High School for three years
After that is university which consist of three years where you get your Bachelor degree, then two years for candidate degree, then you can (if you can get founding) get a phd which is three years (officially at least!). This is the classical university stuents, not enginers

Engineers are educated at so called Technical Universities, and can be either dimploma engineer (three years with internship in a company I believe) or civil engineer (five years).

Nurses and other semi-long educations after High school are called profession-bachelors, usually those are three years, one of those as intern.

(if any non-US people want to explain *their* system, feel free!)
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Fuzzypickles » Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:41 pm UTC

At age 7 most students start 1st Grade. Grade School continues through 8th Grade (usually a student goes through more than one school in this period but the splitting depends on their location; I personally had 1st-5th in one school and 6th-8th in another). High school starts at 9th Grade and is four years long.

After high school options become available. Community colleges are available for anyone with no admission standards. These only can give a two year degree and is mainly done before transfer into a university. If you can get into a University, they offer a B.S. (generally four years) and then you're off to Grad School if you want a Master's or Doctorate. There's also vocational school for things like hair styling or other sorts of skilled labor.

Generally college is used to refer to any sort of education beyond high school. "I'm going to college" is said even if you're heading off to MIT.

I'm sure I've missed some questions and this is more of a vague overview if anything. Feel free to ask follow-ups. =]

EDIT: Why is it that movies, literature and pretty much all sources on the net makes it seem everyone attends college?

This is more of a cultural thing really. Mostly everyone does attend college currently. It might not be a university, but it is a local community college and they're learning something. Right now our culture is under the mindset of "you need a degree to not be a miserable failure" so most people head to college after high school. In high school you can't really specialize like I know you can in some other countries, so you do need college to get any sort of specialization.

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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby mastered » Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:28 pm UTC

Well, in the beginning... ;) it starts with preschool, then kindergarten at age 5, then grade school starts with 1st grade at age 6 and goes up to either 5th or 6th grade, after which is middle school/junior high with either 6th to 8th grades or just 7th and 8th. Then 9th to 12th grades are high school, and then you go to college/university, usually for 4 years to graduate. You can get a post-graduate degree [as in PhD] if you stay longer, in graduate school, for another 4 years or so. Special tracks, such as if you want to become an M.D. or a lawyer, are a lot more involved.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby douglasm » Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:27 pm UTC

Fuzzypickles wrote:Generally college is used to refer to any sort of education beyond high school. "I'm going to college" is said even if you're heading off to MIT.

Not quite. I'm not sure I've ever heard the word "college" used for grad school.

You're right about it being independent of location or type of undergrad school, though.

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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Random832 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:36 pm UTC

As for HS - how many years are in high school varies regionally (usually either 3 or 4, assuming "high school" is separate from primary school at all) but always ends with 12th grade (ending at age 18 for normal students who aren't supergeniuses or whatever)

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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Ixtellor » Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:42 pm UTC

Ulc wrote:Why is it that movies, literature and pretty much all sources on the net makes it seem everyone attends college?


About 50% of Americans go to college. Since most movies are about middle class and upper middle class families, the % is even higher. But if you watch a movie like "Boyz in the Hood" you will see almost no one going to college, which is sadly an accurate depiction of the USA. The higher you go up the socio-economic scale the more likely you are to go to college.

douglasm wrote:Not quite. I'm not sure I've ever heard the word "college" used for grad school.


I have heard that before, but I suppose its more likely they will say "in grad school" or simply "im still in school working on my ________"


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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Krikkit_Robot » Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:27 am UTC

You don't need to be a super genius to finish high school early, it just depends on where you go. The school system I went to you could finish high school in only two years taking the minimum requirements and one summer school class. Or they could do like I did and keep my summers, stay on one semester past their second year taking only one class and going to community college the rest of the day.

But most students stayed in at least one semester into their senior year because no one really wants to start college at 16.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Ulc » Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:30 am UTC

Okay, so I think I've got it now, but one few questions (yes, it has been bugging me for a while now)

Say that you wanted to become a nurse, I take it that means going to college?

So when someone refers to grad school, this would apply to what we would call Masters degree here (same as candidate degree)?

I'm sure that like here there is need for plenty of non-college workers, such as carpenters and such. Here that's an education you can take instead of Highschool*, is it the same in the US? If not, how would one go about becoming say, a carpenter?


*Note that our Grade School ends a year later, where grade 1 through 9 are in grade school
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Ralith The Third » Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:12 pm UTC

US System.
Pre-K (go to school, color, nap, play on the playground)
Kindergarden (go to school, color, nap, play on the playground, and maybe start learning to read)
Grades 1-3 (Cut out napping, focus more on learning basic stuff)
Grades 4-5 or 6 (Upper Elementary. No naps, progressively less frilly stuff, pretty much academic.
Grades 6 or 7 through 8. (Middle or Junior High School. Potentially where they cut out recess, now being challenged as an above average student.)
Grades 9-12, Highschool (Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior, in that order. It's academics now.)

Then 2 years of college for associates (barely used)
4 for bachelors, most prevelant.
6 for masters, 10 for PhD.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Random832 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 2:33 pm UTC

Junior High can also be grades 7 through 9 in which case High School is 10-12.

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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Mokele » Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:58 pm UTC

General terminology: a university almost always offers a PhD program. "Colleges" usually do not, but this is only in the naming of the institution. Although I attend Cornell University (which offers PhD programs), I "packed for college" "drove to college" and am currently "going to college." I think a lot of Brits use "Uni" in this same sense.


Generally, yes, but there are a fair few 'Universities' that don't have graduate students of any sort, and where the profs focus almost entirely on teaching (though they often get some pretty good research accomplished with BS student helpers who're working on some sort of 'senior project').

There's also likely a historical component - I know a 'college' near here with grad students, but as I understand it, it didn't always.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Kawa » Sun Aug 23, 2009 7:48 am UTC

There are a few options for nurses in the US, and just about all involve schooling after high school.

LPNs (Licensed Nurse Practitioners) basically have taken a test after high school; this is usually considered a stepping stone to bigger things.

There are associate degrees in nursing (2 years after high school), offered at most community colleges. It used to be you could go from one of these degrees directly into a unit in a hospital and earn experience and move up for the rest of your life, but things have been changing.

There are batchelor's degrees in nursing (4 years after high school), aka BSN. This plus a licensing exam given by your state of residence gives a title of Registered Nurse (RN), and these are the vast majority of the nurses in the United States. Just about every practicing nurse you'll see at a hospital or a clinic will be an RN.

There are also master's degrees in nursing and doctoral degrees, just like for any other discipline. With the advent of Internet-based education and other options for working students, these have become increasingly popular among those wanting to either teach nurses or join management/administration in healthcare.

(Note: My mother immigrated to the US in the mid-80s with a BSN from the Philippines and got her license from the State of NY soon after that. She has worked on a hospital floor in a city-funded hospital pretty much continually since. She also graduated just last year from University of Phoenix with an Internet-based Masters of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Nursing Education, and is teaching a clinical/lab course as an adjunct at a local community college. She is hoping to pursue a Ph.D. in Nursing, again specializing in education, and one day retire from the unit and teach, perhaps online, full time.)
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby RockoTDF » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:22 am UTC

Mokele wrote:
General terminology: a university almost always offers a PhD program. "Colleges" usually do not, but this is only in the naming of the institution. Although I attend Cornell University (which offers PhD programs), I "packed for college" "drove to college" and am currently "going to college." I think a lot of Brits use "Uni" in this same sense.


Generally, yes, but there are a fair few 'Universities' that don't have graduate students of any sort, and where the profs focus almost entirely on teaching (though they often get some pretty good research accomplished with BS student helpers who're working on some sort of 'senior project').

There's also likely a historical component - I know a 'college' near here with grad students, but as I understand it, it didn't always.


They would have to have some sort of degree beyond a bachelor's to call themselves a university, even if it is just a one year masters in teaching program or something like that. They don't have to be serious research schools, I went to a "university" that is classified as a liberal arts college for my bachelor's.

Many Universities keep the name "college" for historical reasons.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Mokele » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:03 pm UTC

Ahh, you're right, I was just fooled because they don't have graduate degrees in my field (apparently they only have them in one field, psychology).
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:49 am UTC

As no one else has done it yet, I thought I'd attempt to explain the English system (not the British system, the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish have different systems and I have absolutely no idea what the system is in the Republic of Ireland)

First of all you get many nurseries which aren't state funded (although some are funded by churches, mosques, charities or other institutions) from any age up to five.

After five, compulsory education starts. Children can be homeschooled although this is very rare indead (I've never known anyone who knows a homeschooled or homeschooling person). Or they can join a private prep school.

Those who don't join a prep school and who join the state system (which is free) in year 1 then stay at the same school until they are 11 which is year 6.

They then move to a secondary school which continues as a normal schooly bit with no major exams until 14 (end of year 9) then GCSEs start, they last two years and are at the same school and so finish at 16 (year 11) and leave compulsory education.

Then, if your GCSE grades were good enough you go to a sixth form college (or often good schools have their own sixth form that works in the same way) where you do your A-levels for 2 years before finishing at 18 (year 13).

You then leave entirely state-funded education and can go to uni (if your grades were good enough) where you can do a batchellor's degree (usually 3 years) followed by a master's degree ( usually 1 extra year or for £500 and if you wish can continue and do a PhD (not sure how long).




This is all very well but in one or two counties, you have two types of secodnary schools, grammar schools and community schools/secondary moderns. To get into the grammar school you have to take an exam at the end of year 6 (when you're 11) and if you pass you get a grammar school place. Grammar schools are generally better acedemically (as they select the best and so can give a more suitable education) and almost always have an attached sixth form which takes pupils from secondary moderns who perform well.

If you fail the test you go to a secondary modern and get a more suitable education than you would at a completely comprehensive school (takes everyone).




Now the private sector.

For girls, very little is different from the state sector. They do prep school till 11 but then they sit common entrance exams. If they do well enough they go to their chosen public school (which are private) and may or may not board (live at the school). They then do GCSEs and A levels at the attached sixth form college before re-entering the state sector for uni.

Boys on the other hand have a different experience. They stay at prep school till 13 (unless they drop out at 11 to enter the state system as I did (I'm currently at a grammar school)) when they sit common entrance and go to public school in year 9 and have to start their GCSEs almost straight away before going into A levels and uni.




then in some districts they mess the system up even more by having middle schools in between primary and secodnary (these middle shcools are state schools) but I'm not sure what years/ages they cover.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby wst » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:58 am UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Boys on the other hand have a different experience. They stay at prep school till 13 (unless they drop out at 11 to enter the state system as I did (I'm currently at a grammar school)) when they sit common entrance and go to public school in year 9 and have to start their GCSEs almost straight away before going into A levels and uni.
My school had a 'Junior School' from Years 3 to 6, then you'd take a (pretty pointless, everyone got through if they were already in the school) test and go up into the Senior School for Years 7 - 11, and depending on GCSE grades and own choice you'd progress to the Sixth Form or go do something else. At the end of Year 8 everyone got a small choice of subjects to do for the next year, and then narrowed it down further for their GCSE's.

Darn schools are complicated...
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby MadParrot » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:48 pm UTC

Interesting topic, I've always wondered, though I still don't understand. Guess I'll do the Australian System...

* Childcare (any time after 6 weeks :))
* Kindy (3/4yo)- The year before preschool, might be half day only - run privately. I remember not-sleeping at kindy and being demoted to toddlers for it. Have not yet forgiven them, I was being quiet.
* Preschool/Prep: (4-5yo) Optional, but government funded. Differs by state, QLD has now got a system when only kids born in the first half of the year can go to Prep (sorry, pet hate, I was born in October, I guess they save money?)
* Primary school - (The year you turn 6): Depending on the state this goes from grades 1 to 6/7.
* High School - (11-13yo) - Goes until year 12. Technically only mandatory until year 10, but few people leave. Finish when you're 17(or 16) or 18. Many private schools have names like 'Bloggs College', it means absolutely nothing. (Some unis have residential 'colleges' where people sleep e.t.c, but its not used in the American context).

From there, its job, uni or tafe. Most young people I know (um, ok everyone actually) have gone to uni. We've got HECS (sorry, HELP/FEE-HELP) a reasonable payment system for higher education, you do have to pay for it, but only once you start earning above a certain threshold. It is an 'interest-free' loan that happens to have 5% i-can't-belive-its-not-interest applied each year.

TAFE is officially accredited, and might have 1-2 year courses in hairdressing/childcare/barwork/anything!, they give certificates and diplomas. Actually if you were to learn a trade you would take an apprenticeship after school, which might include some tafe, I don't know much about it.

For uni...
* Bachelor - 3 years (4 for some, e.g. engineering). Very common.
* Honours - I think this is an Australian thing? Its is basically a 1 year project with some research group started immediately after bachelors. I think something like 20% of science students do this, but its less common for something like IT. (Ie recruiting people will probably assume you couldn't get a job)
* Masters - 1.5-2 years, done at some stage after bachelors, often while working (woooo, I can study and eat!), or by people from a different field. Usually not in conjunction with honours.
* phd - for the completely insane (:)) after doing honours/research masters, starting at '3' years.

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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Aug 27, 2009 2:01 pm UTC

in England we also have honours degrees. Most of the good unis give honours degrees by default and then give a 'pass' degree if someone just scrapes through. Less good unis do the opposite giving degrees by default and honours degrees for the very best.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby frogman » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:42 pm UTC

What I've always heard is "college" = 2-year degree only. "University" = other stuff. Don't know if that's entirely accurate.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby jmorgan3 » Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:29 pm UTC

frogman wrote:What I've always heard is "college" = 2-year degree only. "University" = other stuff. Don't know if that's entirely accurate.

That is not true for the US, at least.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Boxytheboxed » Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:04 pm UTC

frogman wrote:What I've always heard is "college" = 2-year degree only. "University" = other stuff. Don't know if that's entirely accurate.

A college is any school that offers 2 or 4 year degrees. I believe a school has to have somo kind of grad program ta be a university.

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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby animeHrmIne » Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:31 am UTC

Heh, it sounds like in Australia, Kind(y/ergarten) and Preschool are switched. Where I'm from, Preschool is very optional, and is for 4-5yo. It teaches basics, and is usually a half day. Kindergarten is recommended, goes all day, and is very useful for teaching things that first graders need to know, plus getting children into the school mindset earlier.

I find it odd that private schooling is so rare in England. I know a ton of people who were homeschooled during middle school or elementary school, and then attended public schools for highschool (and IB). It's so common in my community that our gifted program (which had gifted children grades 2-8 come from different parts of town different days) had an entire day devoted to homeschooled children.

Granted, I'm from the Bible Belt, so that might skew my perspective a bit.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby Pit » Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:47 am UTC

Boxytheboxed wrote:
frogman wrote:What I've always heard is "college" = 2-year degree only. "University" = other stuff. Don't know if that's entirely accurate.

A college is any school that offers 2 or 4 year degrees. I believe a school has to have somo kind of grad program ta be a university.


Also not true.

A college is simply a small university. Or, a university will imply that there are "multiple" schools/colleges that are loosely associated by University head and such. When you apply to a university, you have to apply to a school (which holds a series of departments). New York University, for example, has a variety of colleges. Their "basic" one is called the school of Arts and Science, but they also have Stern and the College of Nursing and such.

A college will not separate all their majors into a variety of schools. SUNY Geneseo (my college), for example, only has 2 major schools: The School of Education (all education majors) and the School of Business (Accounting, Business Management, Economic). Most of the other majors all have departments, but not schools to which they are a part of.

This will generally mean that a University holds more students than a college, and their specific schools with have differences with other schools of the same university. Also, Universities also have situations where some "schools" within itself are stronger than others. For example, NYU is very well known for Stern School of Business, but more students actually go to the other schools.

EDIT: Both Universities and Colleges can have graduate programs. SUNY Geneseo, College at Brockport and others all have graduate programs.
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Re: The US college and HS system - explain it for me

Postby ftarp » Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:55 pm UTC

In Canada, the system is almost identical to that in the US, with a few minor differences:

In Ontario and Québec, kindergarten runs for two years, from age 3/4 to 5/6, and is divided into "junior" and "senior" years (or garderie and maternelle in Québec/Franco-Ontarian schools). Elsewhere, the American system is used.
Grades 6-9 are a bit odd, in that elementary school can go all the way until 8th grade, or end at 5th. Some students go to middle school, which can start anytime after 5th grade and end anytime before 10th. High/Secondary school starts somewhere between 7th and 10th grades, and ends in 12th (but school is only mandatory until age 16/10th grade). In Québec, high school ends in 11th grade, and students start CEGEP/Cégep, and have the option to take pre-university courses (mandatory for Québec students entering university) or vocational/college education, for up to three years.
Post-secondary education is the same as in the US, but vocational schools are called colleges, and colleges and universities are both called universities. Also, all post-secondary education is government-subsidized, so even top universities rarely/never cost more than $10,000/year in tuition for Canadians (McGill $7,500; Ryerson $5,500), or $20,000/year for international students (McGill $17,000; Ryerson $13,500).


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