The size of American schools varies greatly, too, from colleges that enroll fewer than 1,000 students to large universities that enroll more than 50,000 students.
 
Overview


Students begin higher education in America after completing 12 years of primary and secondary school, usually at the age of 18. Institutions of higher education include vocational and technical schools, two-year colleges (also known as community colleges), four-year colleges, universities, and professional schools such as law, medical, and pharmacy schools. The size of American schools varies greatly, too, from colleges that enroll fewer than 1,000 students to large universities that enroll more than 50,000 students.

 

Academic Preparation


Some universities are competitive, selecting only those students with excellent grades and test scores. A majority of schools in America require some demonstration that you have succeeded in your previous schooling and that you have the potential to succeed at a more advanced level. Be realistic about your academic record and test scores, and apply to universities with requirements that match your academic background and interests.

 

Colleges vs. Universities


The terms "college" and "university" are used interchangeably. Differences do exist; a college awards bachelor's (or undergraduate) degrees mainly, while universities also award master's and doctoral (or graduate) degrees. Colleges are generally smaller, as well. If a small school has the program you're interested in, or if you think you'd be more comfortable there, then that may be the right choice for you.

 

On the other hand, larger universities have a wider selection of programs and may be able to provide you with services that a smaller school cannot. The best school is the one that's right for you.

 

The American education system may differ from what you're accustomed to in your native country. The types of exams administered, the academic calendar, and the grading system may seem unusual to you at first. Make an effort to understand the education system, and your transition to academic life will be more comfortable and less overwhelming.

 

Academic Calendars


A majority of American universities operate under the semester system—approximately 15 weeks of class. Classes and exams occur during two separate semesters. Generally, fall semester begins in late August and ends in mid-December. The spring semester begins in early January and ends in early May. Some institutions of higher education in America, however, use a quarter system in which four distinct academic terms each feature ten weeks of classes and a week of final exams.

Article by Laurie Westrich, Staff Writer, Hobsons.

 

 

Accreditation

 

Accreditation is the system of recognition and quality assurance for institutions and programs of higher education in the United States. Capstone Vietnam works exclusively with regionally accredited colleges and universities, which is acknowledged to be the gold-standard of accreditation.  To determine if an institution is accredited and the type of accreditation, visit the website of Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and search the Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited By Recognized U.S. Accrediting Organizations.

 

More Information

 

For more background information about undergraduate and graduate/professional study, short-term study, English language programs, distance education and accreditation, and predeparture information, check out one of the booklets below.  All were produced by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. 

 

Booklet One: Undergraduate Study from the If You Want to Study in the United States Series. PDF (3.2MB)

Booklet Two: Graduate and Professional Study and Research from the If You Want to Study in the United States Series PDF (3.1MB)

Booklet Three: Short-Term Study, English Language Programs, Distance Education and Accreditation from the If You Want to Study in the United States Series PDF (1.1MB) 
 
Booklet Four: Getting Ready to Go: Practical Information for Living and Studying in the United States Series PDF (1.1MB)