A College Education in the United States

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An increasing number of college students are attracted to the idea of studying in a foreign country like the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Canada. Students are typically concerned with which country offers the best education. The bottom line is that it depends on what discipline you plan to study, your area of focus (arts or sciences), your college plan (undergraduate, graduate, long-term or short-term study abroad commitments) and in the end it all comes down to the cost of college tuition and the costs associated with housing, travel and ancillary expenses.

Colleges in the United States focus on educating students to be well rounded with an emphasis on arts and extra-curricular activities, such as football, basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, etc. College students in the United States are encouraged to complete a two-year degree program that encompasses an introduction to the arts (music, theater, drama, art, dance, art and music history), sciences (biology, chemistry, anatomy, earth science), history (American, Civil War, World), Communication Arts (Reading, Comprehensive Writing, Communication for public speaking), physical education (bowling, tennis, archery, horseback riding, physical education for general health), etc.

Following a two-year degree program or an equivalent of 60 college hours, students begin studying in their field of interest. A Bachelors degree program (4 year undergraduate program) allows students to study a specially designed, introductory level program that focuses on building entry level skills in their chosen profession. Students who want to excel in their profession and make a long term commitment to further their professional careers are encouraged to complete a Masters degree. A master's degree is an additional 2 year, graduate level program that culminates by successful completion of a comprehensive written research project and successful completion of a comprehensive test that may be both oral and written.

College education in the United States is referred to as post secondary training (Tertiary education). Education in the United States is comparable to education in other industrialized countries, which is characterized by a great number of the population who are high school graduates and a rapidly increasing number of college graduates that exceed the number of high school drop outs. Like other industrialized nations, the United States continues to increase the education level of its population. Based on the 2007 data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, for the first time ever women are earning a greater number of graduate degrees than men and are earning them at a more rapidly increasing rate. This trend is expected to continue well through 2018.

Similar to most societies engaged in progressive educational standards, post-secondary education is highly valued in the United States and is a chief contributor to an individual's class and status. However, education in the United States is very expensive. Post-secondary educational attainment is directly related to household income and wealth. This results in a significant correlation between an individual's income and their level of educational attainment.

How does a college education in the United States compare? Information from a 2007 article from US News and World Report ranks America second only to Canada in the percentage of 35 to 64 year olds with a minimum of a two-year degree. However, when comparing 25 to 34 year olds, America ranks tenth in the nation. America's college completion rates rank 15 out of 29 other countries in regards to their college completion rates. Sadly, this is only slightly above the college graduation rates of both Mexico and Turkey. Undoubtedly, many factors are present, such as the quality of education, college entrance guidelines and the variance in how rigorous their educational programs are and the criteria for graduation.

The United States system of education seems to be unique in its focus on whole learning and producing a well-rounded student. Although, it is expensive, an American education is highly valued across the world. In some countries, such as India, an American education is more valued for the prestige, social reverence and marital worth that a family gains by attaining a foreign education in the United States. In India and other countries and American education and attainment of a college degree are recognizes as smart, trendy, and stylish.

The desire to pursue a foreign education can be attributed to the increasing accessibility of the internet, globalization of the economy and the rapidly expanding access to distance learning. When considering study in a foreign country it is advantageous to work with your local colleges to gain information, identify financial aid opportunities and research colleges (public or private), the programs they have available and determine if the conferred degree is recognized by licensing boards and professional associations in your country. The advantages and experiences gained while studying in a foreign country are sure to prevail over the disadvantages when considering your educational, professional and personal growth.


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