The American Education System.

Hi. I'm English and have lived in England my whole life.
I am at the age where I need to look at universities, and am seriously considering going to America for it- maybe New York Uni or Harvard. The only problem is- I visited the websites and can't seem to get my head around the education system, what all the qualifications mean (majors, minors), what the different age rankings mean (freshmen, seniors) the actual ages for schools (I assume college means a different thing in America).
So I wondered if anyone with sufficient knowledge on it (or who knows about both American and English systems) could explain to an idiot like me.
Also to anyone who has done it, is it worth it? Starting anew in a different continent?
Cheers in advance =]

That's also a good question, "Is it worth it?".

One of the largest differences I've seen in European educations versus American educations is, aside from the system itself, the tuition. I was simply astounded when I found out how much cheaper tuition is over there than it is here. Alright, given that lifestyles and salaries themselves are different. I would check up if you could afford it in the first place - especially since NYU and Harvard, while they do give scholarships, are a bit pricey.

Education systems? After finishing High School (12th grade), students opt to attend a college/university. I know in the UK there is a difference between the two where colleges are the next step and then after that comes Uni (correct me if I'm wrong). Here, it is only a difference in names (not requirements).

Now, I believe you would be familiar with getting a Bachelors in some degree/field. Over here, your education for obtaining your degree is compromised of your major (your field of study) and an option minor (not your main field but something to supplement). So say that you want to come over here and study Psychology and obtain a degree in Psychology. You would find a college/university that offers a major in Psychology (your field of choice). Then you would see what kind of degrees you could obtain (ie. Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, etc).

And perhaps while you're over here you learn that you absolutely are in love with French. Now, you don't love it enough to change your entire field of study from Psychology to French (although, you can opt to get a double major) but you want to study it nonetheless and earn something in it. You would opt to get a minor in French. This would be a supplement to your degree.

In the end, you may come up with:

Bachelor of Arts
- Major in Psychology
- Minor in French

I hope I helped.

Edit:

The next tier up (studying at a university in UK terms) would probably be towards earning a Masters degree in some field. But I'm not sure about that part..

Cloudydays:
how much cheaper tuition is over there than it is here

That's really useful, thank you :D
One thing though, is 'over there' America or England?
But cheers alot, that's saved me hours of staring at a website in a daze.

Quite simple to think of is that the American education system truly suffers in primary and secondary school, rather than post secondary.

Tom_green_day:
That's really useful, thank you :D
One thing though, is 'over there' America or England?
But cheers alot, that's saved me hours of staring at a website in a daze.

The way I understand, tuition in the US for college is much higher than in the UK. Especially Harvard, that's one of the best schools in the nation lol.

To answer your questions in the OP, the typical college age for a person in the US is starting at 18 years old, but there are those who start in their 20s or even 30s. The track for most college students these days is you graduate from high school at around age 18 (I believe you call it primary school, but basically it's the part of our education that is compulsory) then you go to college right away. Usually you graduate from high school in the spring, and then in the fall begin your first semester of college. But there are plenty of people who put it off for a few years, or even come back in their 40s or 50s. As long as you're under about the age of 60 you aren't going to be too out of place going to college in the US, lol.

Your "major" is essentially what your degree is aiming for. My major is computer animation, and the degree I will receive will be a bachelor of fine arts in computer animation. I don't have a minor, because computer animation has enough classes involved in it to fill the entire program on its own. Don't quote me on this, but I think the purpose for a minor is supposed to make your degree a bit more specialized. For example, you can major in communications, but minor in Spanish or some other foreign language if you want to be a translator. So choosing your major is essentially choosing what type of degree you will receive and what your area of emphasis.

The "rankings" (freshman, sophomore, etc) refer to what year of school you're in. Most bachelors degrees take 4 years to get, so your first year you're a freshman, second year you're a sophomore, third year you're a junior, and your fourth year you're a senior. Then there are "super" seniors, which is what you call someone if they're in their fifth year of a four year program (that is a more common than you would think--in the US the average college student changes their major at least 4 or 5 times). Most people I know will be finishing their programs late, because of either changing their majors or just poor planning on their part.

Once you start Master's degree programs the idea of a freshman and whatnot sort of fades away. Master's degrees can take anywhere from 4 to 8 years to get, depending on the program. Associates and bachelor's degrees are called "undergraduate degrees," and Master's degrees and up (up through Doctorals and PhDs) are called "graduate" degrees. So when I get my BFA, I will be an undergrad. I could go to graduate school and get a Master's, but at this point I'm not going to invest in that.

I hope that helps you get your head around the terminology, lol. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

Tom_green_day:

Cloudydays:
how much cheaper tuition is over there than it is here

That's really useful, thank you :D
One thing though, is 'over there' America or England?
But cheers alot, that's saved me hours of staring at a website in a daze.

Ah, sorry, I should have been more clear on that.

Over there as in England. I currently reside in America.

Cloudydays and Lilani are pretty much spot on with their answers, so no need for me to reiterate what's already been posted. However, there is a difference between a College and a University here in the US. The former are smaller and only offer degrees in a specific field, while the latter is quite literally a collection of colleges with a wide selection of fields of study. There's also Community College which, like a regular college, is typically small in size but offers a wider selection of degrees to earn, though not much more. They're typically introductory level schools which are sometimes required to attend depending on the field you wish to study at a large University.

All in all, it's not that different here than it is in the UK/Europe. However, the words College and University are interchangeable in conversation in our sometimes fucked version of the English language. So that's where some of your confusion comes from. Most people don't know to separate the two as they mistakenly believe they are the same thing (which they are not).

 

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