The United States of America remains one of the most important countries in the world. It has a federal system of government and consists of 50 states. The US is a very large country fitting in between Mexico in the south and Canada in the North.

The original native Americans settled in North America centuries ago and are still an important part of the country’s social mix. The US today is also very much a country of immigrants. Starting off with French, British, Dutch and Spanish immigrants, this was followed by many West African slaves, Waves of poor Irish, Jewish, Italians, Polish and Germans then came to the US. Today many people have emigrated to the United States. This has led to an amazing patchwork quilt of people coming from many different countries and backgrounds, but all considering themselves American.

The US economy is still a world powerhouse. Names like Goggle, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Hewlett Packard, Apple, and of course Microsoft, dominate the web and information technology. Much of this is on the west coast of America. Brands like MacDonald’s, and Starbucks can be found all over the world. The US is a very powerful presence in the service industries, but it still has a strong manufacturing base with car companies like Ford and GM still hold their own against very stiff European and especially Japanese competition. Look at pharmaceuticals, the oil industry, aerospace, you will see that the US is very much in the picture.

Culturally the US remains a powerhouse as well. Hollywood remains one of the world’s leading centers for movies. Jazz, funk, rap, hip hop, soul, the blues and rock and roll can be said to have come from the States as well, boasting many great performers. In art in the mid-20th century, the United States developed “action painting”, abstract expression, and Pop Art. It dominated in both architecture and design as well.

The dollar, the “green back”, remains pretty much the world’s main currency. Wall Street, New York, is a major world financial center.

Plus of course sports. Team games are very popular in the United States. These include “grid iron” American Football. Baseball, and Basketball. They share the same passion for Ice Hockey as the Canadians in the north. Soccer (football). Is gaining popularity as well. The United States excels at every Olympics and in many individual sports.

For any student at any age the United States can offer them the opportunity to develop their individual talents and abilities, given what the US potentially has to offer.

Overview of the American Education System.

Many of us have watched High School movies, have a vague idea about how the US system works.

Kindergarten is for 5 to 6 year old’s. Grade 1st to 5th covers 6 to 11 year old’s at elementary school.

Junior High Schools (also Middle schools) cater for 6th grade to 9th grade or “freshmen” from 11 to 12, through to 14 to 15 years of age. Senior High or High schools teach 10th grade through to 12th grade. There is some overlap between Middle Schools and Junior Highs as well as High Schools and Senior High Schools.

To confuse things further, tertiary education, can be designated as Undergraduate School, College or University. This covers 18 to 22 year old students. After that there is Post Graduate Courses, much like other countries. Vocational education along with adult education has a variable set of ages.

Public Schools are run by the state, private schools are fee paying.

In the American system students are constantly assessed and this goes towards grade at the end of the 12th grade when a student can be held behind for a year. There are also independent aptitude tests in Senior High and High Schools.

This may seem strange to students having experienced some of the European systems. In France, the final Baccalaureate is all important. In Germany, there is the Abitur. In England and Wales there are GCSE examinations at 16 and “A” (Advanced level) examinations at 18. (In Scotland these are called Highers). All countries approach education differently. Any one at secondary level considering go to an United States school may need help in making an adjustment to the American educational system.

Vocational Training

You may have heard of the elite Universities in the United States, such as Harvard, CAL Tech and Stanford but there is a considerable depth and breadth of vocational and technical colleges in the US,

There are vocational schools and traditional colleges. The vocational colleges concentrate solely on craft skills where as traditional colleges are more broadly based. They also tend to have longer courses, lasting up to four years. The vocational school courses are more likely to last two years.

In the US people are not frightened to retrain. So, if someone once to change direction they will find out about a course and new occupation that might suit them.

This versatility and flexibility is another factor in the dynamism behind the United States economy.

Many different skills are added in vocational training while you study. This is also a path worth considering for those wanting to study in the US.

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