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Education in the USA

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit 2014 report, the US education system ranks only fourteenth in the world, which does not prevent the US universities from ranking high worldwide.

Preschools and schools

Children start school at the age of five to eight and finish at eighteen or nineteen. First, they go to kindergarten, a part of elementary school. Preschool is another option. Elementary school runs through either fifth or sixth grade, depending on the school district, after which the students go to middle school or junior high school until eighth grade. High school incorporates grades nine to twelve. The complete school education course is known as "K–12" (for "K through twelve").

According to Neighborhood Scout, a website gathering various information on the US cities, the majority of top schools are situated in New York City.

Top US schools 2015

Rank School City
1 The Anderson School New York, NY
2 IS 187 The Christa
McAuliffe School
Brooklyn, NY
3 PS 77 Lower Lab School New York, NY
4 Baccalaureate School
for Global Education
Queens, NY
5 William B. Travis Academy Dallas, TX
6 New York City Lab School
for Collaborative Studies
New York, NY
7 Special Music School New York, NY
8 New Explorations into Science,
Technology and Math High School
(NEST+m)
Brooklyn, NY
9 Maine School of Science
and Mathematics
Limestone, ME
10 Odyssey-Magellan
Charter School
Appleton, WI

Source: Neighborhood Scout

Most schools are public. However, there are also private ones that have an entrance exam and high tuition fees. These normally prepare students to continue their education at prestigious universities. Moreover, there are boarding schools to which students from all over the country apply such as Phillips Exeter Academy in the state of New Hampshire.

Colleges and universities

Those who completed secondary education can enter a college awarding Associate Degrees that take two years to earn. Another choice is to enter a college or university granting Bachelor Degrees that usually take four years. Further levels of education include Masters (two or three years) and PhD (three or more years of studies). Separately accredited faculties and universities issue Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Law degrees. Earning a degree in Medicine or Law in the US is difficult: full time studies can take up to seventeen years.

In total, there are about 4,000 higher education institutions in the US About 820,000 foreign citizens study there. The most popular states among the international students are California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois. The most in-demand academic programmes are Business and Management, Engineering, Mathematics and IT, Social Studies and Physics.

Studies at the top US universities cost $50,000–60,000 per year, including accommodation and meals. So a degree from a top-ranking university can cost the student or their families hundreds of thousand dollars. Princeton, Harvard and Yale universities are among the top US universities. All of them belong to the so-called Ivy League, which is the association of eight private universities in the East Coast. The five other members of the League are the Brown University, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania. Most of them were founded back in the XVI century.

Top US universities 2014–2015

In the US Worldwide Name
1 1 Massachusetts Institute
of Technology (MIT)
2 4 Harvard University
3 7 Stanford University
4 8 California Institute
of Technology (Caltech)
5 9 Princeton University
6 10 Yale University
7 11 University of Chicago
8 13 University of Pennsylvania
9 14 Columbia University
9 14 Johns Hopkins University
10 19 Cornell University

Source: QS World University Rankings

It is possible to apply to colleges or universities with either the Universal College Application or the Common Application. Applying and registering at many US universities is fee-based. For example, Princeton charges a $90 application fee for applying and creating a profile on their website. Each application must include tests results, final school grades and teacher recommendations.

To enter a US university, applicants need to take the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT (American College Testing) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Also, it is essential for the prospective students to write a statement of purpose, outlining their life goals and explaining their interest in a certain academic programme. All the US higher education institutions accept the results of the tests mentioned above. The applicants should send the tests results and the documents to the University Admission Office and wait for a response.

International students holding valid F-1 visas have the right to work, but not more than twenty hours per week.

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