There are more than two thousand institutions of higher education in the United States with the number of students ranging from fewer than a hundred to 40,000.
Young people who want to enter higher education must meet some requirements. They must have attended a high school for four years. No student is admitted to a college or university without having completed a four-year course in high school. This means that a student who wants to study at the university or college must begin by doing good work in high school. If his grades in high school are satisfactory, he is admitted to a university or college, where he may take a Bachelorís degree after a four-year course of study. About fifty three per cent of pupils who complete their high school course go on to a college or university.
The first two years in an American college or university differ somewhat from a similar period in a European one. These years in American college are a continuation of secondary education. During this time certain courses in English, social sciences, natural sciences and so on must be completed before a student may begin an intensive study of this special field.
Nearly all of colleges and universities in the United States are coeducational. This means both men and women attend the same university. It is common for students to leave home to study, and only about 15% of all university students live at home while they study. Students may live either on the university campus in one of the dormitories or in private homes in the city in which the University is located.
University life provides a wide variety of recreational activities. Although a great deal of time must necessarily be devoted to study, students find time for recreation. There are football, basketball, and baseball games, teas and dances, concerts, debates, club programs and plays, to mention only a few of the many activities. Most recreational activities are not expensive for the student.
US Academia: Some Explanations
The American academic year usually runs from some time in September to the end of May. Most, although not all, scools run on a semester system. Achievement is measured by grades which are given on papers and tests during the course of the semester and a final examination at the end of the semester. The final grade is based on all of the work done for the course. At the university level, grades are usually given in the form of letters that correspond to numbers 1-4, with 4 indicating excellence. A grade point average (GPA) is determined at the end of a term to show overall achievement.
The degree programs contain several major courses and a certain number of credit hours is given for every course. A student must take a predetermined number of credit hours in order to graduate. One can drop or add a course in the beginning of the term but not in the middle of the semester. Withdrawing from a course midsemester will be noted on grade records. Students are ecouraged to discuss any academic problems or questions they may have with their academic adviser.
In the classroom, Americans are encouraged to ask questions and to voice their opinions, even if they differ from those of the professor. Also, professors expect papers to be typed and not handwritten.