The United States has one of the best education systems in the world. In general, education programs can be divided into three major categories:
- Primary Education (e.g., kindergarten, elementary school and sometimes middle school/junior high, depending on the school)
- Secondary Education (e.g., middle school/junior high and secondary/high school)
- Tertiary/Post-Secondary Education (e.g., trade/vocational school, community college, college, university)
All children living in the USA, both American citizens and US permanent residents, receive free public primary and secondary education (i.e., kindergarten through the 12th Grade) and normally attend school from ages 5-6 until age 18 (depending on their date of birth). The school year starts in late-August or early September and ends in May or June. Although the US Department of Education provides guidelines, standards and assistance to the 50 US states, District of Columbia and over 13,500 public local school districts within the United States, decision-making, policies and programs are developed and implemented at the local level in most schools across the USA. Children attending public primary or secondary schools in the USA usually attend a local school in or near the neighborhood where they live. Some schools are better-funded or have a higher reputation for instruction, activities and resources than others (often depending on the neighborhood or school district), so parents may want to research where the “best schools” are when looking for a place to live.
The Niche website can be a useful resource for parents seeking information about the best public and private primary and secondary schools in the United States. For example, Niche has published its 2019 rankings of America’s top school districts, public schools and private schools. US News & World Report is another good source of information about the top public high schools and universities in the United States.
Tertiary (post-secondary) education is very accessible in the United States and foreign nationals who are issued an American Green Card have many options to choose from, depending on their interests, educational background and financial resources. In fact, there are approximately 4,600 degree-granting colleges and universities to choose from across America, including trade schools, community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities.
For instance, there are local trade schools and community colleges in or near most cities and towns in the USA where classes tend to be smaller, tuition is not very high, entrance requirements may be easier (than a four-year college or university) and students can learn a vocation (e.g., welding, computer repair, etc.) or earn a two-year Associates Degree. For students who might not qualify to attend a four-year college or university (because their grades were not high enough or for other reasons), there may be a possibility to study during the first two years at a community college, get good grades and then transfer to a four-year college or university to finish their Bachelor’s Degree (the counseling department at the community college can usually provide information about this potential option).
The United States is known around the globe for having some of the top colleges and universities on Earth. In fact, the United States boasts the largest number of the top 100 best universities in the world, according to the 2018-2019 assessments made by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and US News & World Report.
Although these three evaluations differ in their rankings of institutions of higher education around the globe, the main point is that people who immigrate to the United States have an opportunity to receive an excellent education at some of the world’s best colleges and universities!
Colleges and universities in the United States are either public or private. Public colleges and universities receive much of their funding from the state where they are located and usually charge tuition and fees that are less expensive than many private colleges and universities. Private colleges and universities do not usually receive public funding and so the tuition and fees students pay are usually higher than at public higher education institutions in the USA. If you immigrate to the United States, be sure to check with a high school, community college or college/university counselor (as appropriate) to explore possible educational options, including any financial aid (such as grants and scholarships) that may be available to US permanent residents.