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The Main Concepts of American Education

Educational institutions in the United States, according to the ideas of their creators, should reflect the nation's basic values and ideals. In some respects this has been achieved but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

The underlying principle of the American system of education is to educate people in such a way that everyone has the opportunity to develop to his/her greatest potential. As elsewhere, one of the major problems is the question of what should be the true goal of education. The American system tends to focus on teaching man and society to get along in the community. Learning to think for oneself and learning by doing are stresses as means of developing the judgement to achieve this goal.

Another major purpose of education in America is to lay the ground work for achieving success in life. Here it should be said that Americans value education largely as a means to reaching a higher standard of living. The belief is widespread in the US that the more schooling a person has, the more money he or she will earn on college graduation. Generally speaking, the expectation is that degrees in fields such as business and engineering will result in higher paying careers than a degree in the liberal arts (literature, history, philosophy, etc.).

Equality of opportunity the declared motto for life in the United States is also an important aspect of the American system of education. Because of the inequalities inherent in society as a whole, however, the goal of equal opportunity in education remains an ideal rather than a reality. Furthermore, the very structure of education itself, which contains both public and private schools, may not encourage equality of opportunity.

There exist private schools where tuition fees are relatively high, so that they educate primarily upper-class children. The reason why parents send their children to these schools is that they often believe they will receive a better education in them and/or they will associate with other children of their own background. However, these private schools are few in number, and they do not by any means displace the public schools which are truly the central educational institution in the United States.

Since separation of church and state is a principle of American democracy and therefore religion cannot be taught in state-supported schools, there are also many parochial schools, which are supported by the church. These are often Catholic, but there are Protestant and Jewish schools as well.

There is still another factor which supports the idea of equal opportunity competition in getting jobs or entering the best universities is held on a relatively equal basis irrespective of the type of the school, private or public, one has attended. Furthermore, a lot depends on the personal qualities of the individual school graduate.

There are also private colleges and universities, many of which have strict entrance requirements. Some believe that private institutions of higher learning have higher graduation standards but this is debatable.

All university students must pay tuition fees. In private universities these are usually much higher. In addition to tuition fees one has to pay for books and room and board. Deserving students may receive scholarships of various types that offset the high costs of higher education.

Unlike the European system of higher education, individual colleges and universities in the US do not have their own entrance examinations. Rather, admission is based on scholastic achievement in high school and performance on standardized national tests: SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (American College Testing). In addition, colleges and universities may require applicants to submit samples of their writing.


Date: 2015-12-17; view: 925

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To be admited to an institution of higher learning, one has to pass a series of oral and written tests. Grades in the certificate of secondary education are also taken account. | Some Important Details about American Universities and Colleges
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