Education in the USA


A good education is as highly regarded in the United States as it is in other countries around the world. In America, many children under the age of five, begin their education by attending nursery school or preschool. At the age of five they enter kindergarten commencing primary school education, which lasts until age nine. Following primary school, secondary education begins with junior high or middle school, generally between the ages of ten and thirteen. From junior high school, students move on to complete their secondary educations in high school, where the most import part of the development teen years is spent. Primary and secondary education is compulsory in the United States, but it is generally free of charge, since it is supported by property taxes. Private schools and religious based schools also exist in America but require payment of tuition. In the event that a parent chooses private school for his or her child, the parent still must pay public school property taxes.

After secondary school, many students go on to a college or university, since most Americans consider a college or university degree to be a key to a better life. A college education is very expensive in the United States, especially at private colleges and universities. City or state colleges and universities are a less costly alternative and are often more convenient and accessible for students who cannot afford to attend private schools. Some students are able to obtain low-interest rate student’s loans from the government, which the students can repay after they complete their educations and begin working.

For many Americans going to college is the greatest adventure of their lives, because they have the opportunity to break away from their families and begging to live independently. It takes an average of four years to obtain an undergraduate degree from a college or university. The first year of a student at a college or university is known as the freshman year. The second year is the sophomore year. The third year is the junior year, and finally the fourth year is the senior year.

Most college grading systems in the United States are based on an alphabetical system. “A” being the highest grade, and “F” a failing grade. In such system, an A+ is the top grade that a student can get as a result of an outstanding performance. Upon receiving a college bachelor’s degree, a student can pursue still higher education in the form of a master’s degree. A Master’s program generally takes from one to two years or more, depending on whether a student attends full-time or part-time.

The pinnacle of education in the U.S. is the doctorate or Ph.D. degree. Generally, to get into a Ph.D. program, a student must first obtain a master’s degree. Ph.D. degrees are usually sought after by people who want to do research, or those who want to become professors and be part of the academic staff at a university. Ph.D. degrees require several years of additional study.

Vocabulary and Expressions


Highly regarded = highly valued, admired, appreciated.
Nursery school = a school for children, usually between the ages of three and five.
Kindergarten = a preschool for children age 5 to 6 to prepare them for primary school.
Primary school = a school for the first four to eight years of a child’s formal education, often including kindergarten.
Junior high = a secondary school usually including 7th and 8th grades.
High school = a secondary school that usually includes grades 9 or 10 through 12.
College = an institution of higher education created to educate and grant degrees, often a part of a university.
University = An institution for higher learning with teaching and research facilities constituting a graduate school and professional schools that award master’s degrees and doctorates and an undergraduate division that awards bachelor’s degrees.
Consider = to think carefully about, especially in order to make a decision.
Costly = costing much, expensive, high in price.
Accessible = obtainable, attainable.
Cannot afford = not to have enough money to pay for something.
Break away = To separate or detach oneself, as from a group.
Independently = adverb, independent + ly, not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction.
Undergraduate degree = degrees below or equivalent toa bachelor’s degree.
Bachelor’s degree = degree that a student is awarded after successfully completing 4 years of studies at a college or university.
Master’s degree = degree that a student is awarded upon completion of one to two years of advanced graduate study beyond the bachelor’s degree.
Ph.D. degree = Doctor of Philosophy. Advance academic degree. An American doctorate usually based on at least 3 years graduate study and a dissertation.
Research = a detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover (new) information or reach a (new) understanding.
Professor = a college or university teacher who ranks above an associate professor.

Conversation Activities

1. Who pays for education in your country?
2. How is the educational system in your country organized?
3. How many years do you have to go to school in order to obtain a Ba or Bs?
4. How many years do people have to study in order to become teachers your country?
5. Are public schools better than private schools in your country?
6. Do you think that people can become self-educated?
7. What is more important in order to be successful: education or imagination?