Schooling system in the USA
Why the USA?
The sports and school systems in Europe are very much different from the set systems in the US. Each of the systems in Europe demands full devotion and it is almost impossible to combine sports with school. The American system is much more suitable for coordinating both sides. School and sports are merged into an efficient whole. Each student-athlete has the opportunity to follow lectures, the professors are always prepared to help and advise. This way, the student has the possibility to practice his/her sport intensively every day, so that he/she can really progress in both areas.
In the USA, there are public and private high schools. The main difference between public and private schools is that public schools are free of charge and private schools require paying for. Mostly, the students go to the high school in their area, which is the closest to their home.
Public high schools are financed by the state, which means that they are free of charge for the students. Private schools are however independent from the help of the state and are financed from other funds – tuition and other foundations.
Colleges and universities
Universities in the USA are public and private. In the US, there are more than 600 public and 1,700 private four-year universities. These institutions can provide you with a bachelor’s degree (undergraduate program), a master’s degree (graduate program) and a doctorate (graduate program).
For a bachelor’s degree in the undergraduate program, you need at least four years of studying.
A master’s degree is a title in the graduate program, which a student can achieve with 1-2 years of studying after finishing the undergraduate program.
The doctorate degree or PhD is also a title you can get in the graduate program but it takes between 5 and 7 years of studying after finishing the undergraduate program.
Each high school student may apply for a higher education, but the tuition at universities is high and the difference between public and private universities is even bigger. The most important factors, based on which they accept a student to the university are these:
- Grades from high school
- SAT results and TOEFL results
- Recommendations from your professors
- Essays that you write to the school and
- Extra-curricular activities
The academic year is divided into two semesters. The fall semester usually starts in the last week of August or in the first week of September and lasts approximately until middle December (each university can have a little difference in arranging the time frame of each semester but the differences are usually in one or two weeks). The spring semester lasts from January till May. Between May and September, the schools also offer a summer school, during which the students have the possibility to make up for missed lectures and tests or take exams ahead to get more credit points, which leads to an earlier bachelor’s degree.
Credit points and the grading system
To get a bachelor’s degree, each student has to collect 120 credit points (this is the general rule, there may, however, be some courses where the student needs more points). Each passed subject is worth 3 credit points. This means 5 passed subjects each semester (15 points each semester adds up to 30 points per year and this means 120 points in four years). Before each semester, the student chooses the subjects that he/she wants to take the following semester.
Each major demands certain subjects to be passed. In principle, the student may be undecided for the first two years of studying but must decide for the main subject of his/her major prior to their third year (junior year). It is recommended that each student at least has a clue about what he/she wants to study so that he/she can choose the appropriate subjects that will lead to a bachelor’s degree.
The grading system in the USA is very different from the Slovenian one. The grades go from A to F.
A = 4 points
B = 3 points
C = 2 points
D = 1 point (the lowest grade with which you can pass a subject)
F = Fail
For a bachelor’s degree, each student must have an average of C or 2,0 GPA. This average is important, because each student-athlete who does not have it, is not eligible to perform and compete in his/her sport, which can endanger the scholarship for the following year. For a master’s degree, the average of B or 3.0 GPA is required.
Life on the campus
During the time of studying, the students have the possibility to live on the school campus. For foreign students, living on campus is recommended at least for the first few years, so that they can meet new people more easily and adapt to the lifestyle.
There are many cafeterias and restaurants, where most of the students eat (including student-athletes).
Places like “Student union” are where students spend the most time to interact with other students. Student unions may include everything from grocery stores, cafeterias, and coffee shops, to book stores and cinemas.
A full scholarship covers the living costs as well as the costs of food, schooling and school requisites.
The height of the scholarship depends on the coach (how much he/she is willing to offer). The more they wish to have an athlete on their team, the higher their offer will be. The best option, of course, is a full scholarship (100%), which covers all expenses (tuition, living, food, etc). The student does not get money but gets a certificate, which shows the height of their scholarship. Usually, the scholarship covers from 70% and 100% of the expenses.