Functioning of the American higher Education system

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The American higher education system presents significant differences in relation to the Others. In a country where the culture of entrance examinations does not exist, the curricula of students in the “high-school” (or high school) tend to be increasingly competitive.

American students know that each high-school year is a very important step in the competition for a place at a good HEI in the country. In this context, young foreigners who intend to graduate in the United States must be aware of the difficulties that the system imposes, the existing competitiveness among candidates and, mainly, the numerous differences in relation to the others  model of higher education.

Teaching Structure

With the exception of the Medicine, Veterinary, Law and Dentistry courses (which have a different format), all other areas of qualification in American higher education have three different stages: Undergraduate, Master’s and Doctorate . However, although the classification concepts of these stages are similar to the concepts used in Brazil, the divergences are present from the beginning to the end of academic life.

Higher Education

University Careers (Under graduated):

The term “under graduated” refers to the education Americans receive after they graduate from high school. In general, the courses are distributed in three major academic areas: humanities, social sciences and health sciences, and the subjects can be mandatory or optional.

They are divided into two large groups, depending on their duration:

  • Short-term higher courses (Associated Degrees)
  • Bachelor’s Degrees (Bachelors Degrees)

Short-term higher education  courses (Associated Degrees):

Short-term higher education, or associate degrees, are those academic programs that are designed to be completed in two years. The credits obtained in the programs of these courses are generally recognized by the institutions as part of the four-year degrees. People entering short-term higher education programs often intend to switch to a degree program and sometimes may do so before the two years are up.

Short-term higher education courses consist of a general theoretical basis, complemented by specific subjects depending on the specialty you wish to study. business or technology topics.

Bachelor’s Degrees:

higher Education

Licentiate or bachelor’s degrees are those university courses with a total duration of four years. In which the student must complete a series of credits depending on the chosen specialty. In each year of study the student receives a different denomination.

Specialties in the humanities, social sciences, philosophy, religious studies, interdisciplinary studies or the cultural area in general receive a degree in Arts (BA or AB). Programs in mathematics, physics, engineering, and other professional fields may be awarded a BA, a Bachelor of Science (BS or SB), or a title specifically named for the subject studied.

University graduate:

Graduation years are divided into four stages: Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior.

  • Freshman: Corresponds to the first year of the undergraduate course at an American HEI.
  • Sophomore: Corresponds to the second year of the undergraduate course at an American HEI.

The “Freshman” and “Sophmore” are equivalent, respectively, to the first and second years of graduation in an American HEI. In these stages, the course applies general knowledge subjects. This initiative allows the student to have more time to decide on the career to follow, in addition to not having to enter an institution and, in the first year, study specific subjects of a particular qualification. Only from the third year, that is, in the “Junior”, the student chooses the course in which he intends to become a bachelor.

  • Junior: Corresponds to the third year of the undergraduate course at an American HEI, in which the student will be able to choose which qualification he wants to specialize in.
  • Senior: Corresponds to the fourth and, with the exception of Medicine, Veterinary, Law and Dentistry courses, the last year of graduation at an American HEI.

Choosing your license:

From the third year, “Junior”, the student will be able to choose the qualification he intends to complete his bachelor’s degree. This option is called “Major”. After choosing their “Major”, the student may choose, if interested, to attend the “Minor”, that is, secondary electives related to the qualification in which they wish to specialize.

  • Major: Qualification in which the student wishes to complete his bachelor’s degree. Ex: Journalism, Economics, Psychology, Physics, Biology etc.
  • Minor: Secondary electives in which the student chooses subjects related to their “Major” for a specialization. Ex: If the student has opted for a “Major” in Journalism, he/she may choose a “Minor” in Business, Sports or Economic Journalism.
  • Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary and Law:

These four undergraduate courses have a slightly different process than the others. In the third year, or “Junior”, the student will not choose the specific qualification such as medicine and law, for example. In these cases, they will choose a qualification in: “Pre-Med”, “Pre-Dental”, “Pre-Vet” or “Pre-Law”, which correspond to an initial preparation of the course in which they wish to graduate.

Upon completion of the “Senior”, the student is submitted to an exam where their knowledge will be tested. If approved, the student is sent to a “Professional School” .where he can complete the rest of his course and, finally, practice his profession. In a “Professional School”, the duration of Law, Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary courses can vary between four and eight years.

Where to graduate:

Graduation in the United States can be done at different types of institutions. If the student is not financially or psychologically prepared to enter a university, he can attend the first two years of graduation, “Freshman” and “Sophomore”, in a “Community College” or “Two Year College”.

State College”  or “University”: A “College” or state university is funded and administered by the state or local government. Each of the 50 US states operates at least one state university and likely several state colleges. Some of them have the word “State” in their name, others don’t. “Private College” or “University”: These are run by private organizations and not the government. The cost of education will normally be higher than that of a state school. Colleges and private universities are often smaller in size than state ones. “Two Year College”:

A “Two-Year College” admits high school students and confers an “Associate`s Degree”, (first two years of a bachelor’s degree). Some are maintained by the states, others are private. You must make sure that an “Associate`s Degree” can qualify you to get a good job in Brazil. In some cases a bachelor’s degree is required for this. In this case, you can transfer to a four-year college or university, where you can complete your bachelor’s degree in at least two other years. ” Community College”: This is a state (public) “Two-Year College” that serves a local community, typically a city or county. Many of the students are from the locality who live with their families,

“Professional Schools”: A vocational school prepares students in fields such as art, music, engineering, business, and other professions. Some are part of a university. Others are independent schools. In some cases, they may also offer postgraduate courses.

” Polytechnic Institutes”:     These are schools that offer at least four years of study in science and technology. Some of these institutes offer postgraduate courses. Others are similar to “Community” and “Junior Colleges” and offer shorter programs in less advanced specialties.

Confessional Schools: Many American colleges and universities were founded by religious groups. The relationship between the school and the religious organization can be quite flexible. Some prefer to admit students who are members of their own religious group, but the vast majority are open to all religions and beliefs. Traditionally, many of these faith schools required students to take Bible courses and regularly attend church services. These practices, however, are less and less frequent.

Technical Institutes: Do these institutions train students in areas such as medical technology or industrial engineering? possible that the course will prepare you for the career you want. However, the degree may or may not be equivalent to a degree from a “College” or university. Some “Colleges” or universities do not accept the transfer of credits from technical institutes.

The “Community Colleges” also offer specialized technical courses in certain areas, which can be completed in two years. However, this type of course does not have an equivalent in Brazil. In this case, the student will not be able to obtain a revalidation in our country.

Admission Processes:

In the US there are about 3,600 colleges and universities that offer higher education. This means that there is a wide variety of programs, depending on the characteristics of each student. Choosing one or the other, although at first it may seem very complicated, it will not be so difficult .If you take into account a series of points such as: choosing the right university. how to prepare an application and the application process.


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