The U.S. education system

There are over 4,700 higher education institutions in the USA. We help transfer students to the best college or university for them.

Flexibility and Choice

  • Flexibility and Choice are defining characteristics of the U.S. education system. Throughout grade school and undergraduate studies, students are provided with a general education which includes required core subjects but also offers a choice of electives.
  • This broad range of studies provides them with the basis from which to choose a specialization or ‘major’. Major selection can happen as early as entrance to college or as late as the end of the second (sophomore) year.
  • With thousands of higher education institutions in America, students have endless choices and the search can be daunting. Fortunately, there is flexibility in changing schools or changing majors should the fit not be right for a student.


  • Students complete 12 years of grade school - the last 4 are called high school. Following graduation from high school, students then enter into college for undergraduate study. Undergraduate study can be completed with a 2-year or 4-year degree.
  • The 2-year Associate’s degree is generally for students attending community colleges and interested in getting to work quickly.
  • Students with an Associate’s may choose to move into a 4-year college to complete another 2 years and receive a Bachelor’s. Higher skilled and better paid jobs will require a Bachelor’s degree. From there, students may choose to go on to graduate study at the Master’s or Doctorate level.

College Admissions

  • Preparation for the college admissions process can begin as early as freshman or sophomore year of high school.
  • Compared to institutions around the world which place a large emphasis on academic marks, U.S. colleges review applicants in a holistic sense – taking into account 3 primary areas; academic achievement, extracurricular involvement and social development.
  • Each of these areas is often weighted evenly as competitive institutions are looking for ‘well-rounded’ individuals.
  • American colleges and universities have become increasingly competitive and selective year on year; current competition being at an all-time high.

Advanced Placement (AP)

  • For students who are gifted and are looking for challenging coursework, ‘honors’ or ‘advanced’ classes are available in the core subject areas.
  • For the highly motivated students, schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses with college-level curriculums to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
  • These courses prepare students for AP examinations which are taken at the culmination of the courses.
  • High scores on these examinations will lead to many American colleges granting placement and/or course credit.

College vs. University

  • Technically, universities differ from colleges in that they are research-oriented institutions which provide both undergraduate and graduate education whereas colleges offer undergraduate study only.
  • A Bachelor’s degree can be obtained at either a college or university although the term ‘college’ is often used colloquially to refer to undergraduate study as a whole.
  • For historical reasons, some universities with a wide variety of graduate programs—such as Boston College and Dartmouth College—have retained the term "college".
  • The naming of college vs. university does not imply any difference in prestige or selectiveness, it simply points to the level of study offered.

Course Credits

  • A full-time student takes 4 or 5 courses each semester and receives a certain number of credits for each course successfully completed.
  • The number is directly related to the number of hours assigned to the course. For example, successful completion of a course that meets for 1 hour, three times a week equals a total of 3 credits.
  • The same course with an additional hour of lab work equals 4 credits. The Bachelor’s Degree is usually stated as being 120 credits (about 4O courses) for institutions operating on a semester system.
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