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Education Systems in the US - Unraveling the Puzzle
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Education Systems in the US - Unraveling the Puzzle


There are many myths and misconceptions about how schools in the United States function. Since there is no standard process for application and admission, applying to schools may seem very complicated …

There are many myths and misconceptions about how schools in the United States function. Since there is no standard process for application and admission, applying to schools may seem very complicated and confusing. However, the good news is that there are some general guidelines for working with US schools and in understanding how they work. Educational agents are critically important in disseminating this information to students and families, making it imperative for agents to stay informed with accurate, timely, and honest information.

This presentation reviews the structure of the US educational system and provides an overview of common admission criteria and practices, including: differences among public, private, and for profit institutions; choosing among colleges, universities, community colleges, and language schools; the importance of accreditation; the meaning of rankings; the importance of finding the “right fit” school; best practices for helping students prepare application packages and the importance of each element in the package, including tests. What questions should agents really be asking about prospective school partners and what are ways to develop effective relationships?

For more industry news, market intelligence, research and commentary for international student recruitment, please visit, subscribe for daily or weekly updates, and follow us on Twitter

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  • 1. Education in the United States: A Primer A Primer
  • 2. Education in the US A Primer • Public education is universal and compulsory ages 5 – 16. • Curriculum, policies, employment practices are controlled at local level school districts. • Federal and State laws require performance assessment and reporting, and mandate adherence to anti-discrimination practices.
  • 3. US Department of Education • Establishes policies related to federal education funding, administers distribution of funds and monitors their use. • Collects data and oversees research on America's schools. • Identifies major issues in education and focuses national attention on them. • Enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in programs that receive federal funds.
  • 4. US Department of Education • Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) • Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) • 504 Rehabilitation Act • Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • 5. FERPA • FERPA prohibits the disclosure of a student’s “protected information” to a third party. This disclosure is prohibited regardless of whether it is made by hand delivery, verbally, fax, mail, or electronic transmission. • For purposes of FERPA, a “third party” includes any individual or organization other than the student or the student’s parent . As such, once an educational institution discloses protected information to a third party, it must ensure that the third party does not itself improperly disclose the information in violation of FERPA. • FERPA classifies protected information into three categories: (1) educational information; (2) personally identifiable information; and (3) directory information. The limitations imposed by FERPA vary with respect to each category. •
  • 6. Education in the US A Primer • 88% students grades K-12 in public education • 9% students grades K-12 in private education • 3% students grades K-12 home schooled • Grades K-5 Elementary/Primary • Grades 6-8 Middle School/Junior High School • Grades 9-12 High School/Secondary School/Prep School 99% literacy rate
  • 7. Education in the US A Primer High school graduate 86.68% Some college 55.60% Associates and/or Bachelor's degree 38.54% Bachelor's degree 29.0% Master's degree 7.62% Doctorate or professional degree 2.94%
  • 8. Education in the US A Primer Public or Private • Funding tied to tuition rates • Size and degree offerings • Class size and demographics • Quality
  • 9. Education in the US A Primer ACCREDITATION • Validation of quality of an institution • Standards set by peer review board • Assessed on: 1. Mission 2. Objectives and Goals 3. Student Requirements 4. Services available to Students 5. Quality of Education 6. Reputation of faculty
  • 10. Education in the US Accreditation Benefits of Accreditation • Transfer opportunities • Graduate school entrance • Employer recognition Accrediting Bodies • CHEA: Council for Higher Education Accreditation Advocate and institutional voice for self regulation of academic quality through accreditation.
  • 11. Education in the US SIX MAJOR REGIONAL ACCREDITING BOARDS IN THE US • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools • New England Association of Schools and Colleges • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools • Northwest Commission of Schools and Colleges • Western Association of Schools and Colleges • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Specific programs within colleges and universities seek their own accreditation, e.g. IACBE
  • 12. PROFIT or NON-PROFIT Both non-profit and for-profit schools confer degrees, but their focus and composition are quite different. Profit • Must make money for owners and shareholders – making money is a priority but costs are usually more affordable • Governance often private equity • $3,000 per student instructional costs • 28% 4 year degree • $8 per student on research • National Accreditation Non-Profit • Designed to serve students interests – student and quality centered • Governance typically local and in- house. Operate independently of owner structure • $15,000 per student instructional costs • 65% four year degree • $5,800 • per student on research • Regional Accreditation
  • 13. Education in the US A Primer Higher Education Structure • Technical Colleges/Vocational Schools • Junior Colleges • Community Colleges • Colleges • Universities
  • 14. Education in the US Rankings College Rankings may be misleading. Use as tip sheets in conjunction with other data and research. The process distorts students' relationships with learning, causing them to regard the high school years as an Olympic training season demanding ever- greater feats of accomplishments in order to qualify for admission to a selective university or college. The Case for Change in College Admissions • Rankings are based upon student matriculation data – not performance data • Rankings are based on industry voting • Rankings are based on faculty degree attainment, not teaching performance
  • 15. Education in the US Rankings en/2013/03/25/college-rankings-arent- meaningless-theyre-just-misleading/ e-rankings-more-important-than-ever/ us-news-college-rankings-hurt- students/
  • 16. Education in the US Research for the “Right Fit” • • • • • • • •
  • 17. Education in the US The Right Fit Evaluate your students' interests Goals Abilities GPA Test Scores Language Proficiency Size Location Ability to Pay Majors Campus Climate
  • 18. Questions students must ask themselves 1. What might I like to major in? 2. Where would I like to be? 3. How many people? 4. Coed? 5. Campus geography? 6. Urban, suburban, rural? 7. Lifestyle choices? 8. Services needed? 9. Programs or sports ? 10. Kind of housing? 11. Preferred learning environment? 12. Preferred living environment? 13. Costs? Scholarships? Education in the Us The Right Fit • Are the answers self aware and accurate?
  • 19. QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT A COLLEGE 1.What is the selection rate? 2.What is the range of test scores? 3.What test scores are required? 4.What high school courses are required? 5.What are the criteria for admissions? 6.What are the majors? 7.What are the special programs? 8.What is the cost of tuition, books, fees, room and board, travel, personal expenses? 9.What is the financial aid like? 10.Are there merit based scholarships? 11.What are the students like? 12.What do students like most about the college? Why do they chose it? 13.What do students like least about the college? Why to they leave it? 14.What do students do for fun? 15.What are weekends like on campus? 16.What is the crime rate? How safe is it? 17.What are the extracurricular activities that are available? 18.What are the housing options and is housing guaranteed? 19.What health services are offered? 20.What are the strongest majors? 21.What is the range of class sizes? 22.What is the relationship between students and faculty like? Who teaches classes? 23.Is there an advising program? 24.What is the retention rate? 25.What percentage of students enters graduate school? 26.Is there a career planning and placement office? 27.Are there internships? Study abroad? 28.What are the graduation requirements? 29.Are there service opportunities? Education in the US The Right Fit
  • 20. Education in the US A Primer What are colleges and universities looking for? • Well rounded student body – not well rounded student • Evidence of ability to succeed • Strong academics – transcript most important • Test Scores • Competent language skills • Competent writing skills • Leadership • Genuine interest in the school and major • Passion for something – evidence of depth and breadth • Talent: music, art, athletics
  • 21. Education in the US A Primer Typical Application Package Elements • Application ( ) • Essay • Transcripts and Profiles( ) • Recommendations • Test of English Proficiency • Resume • Interview • Portfolio or Audition • Declaration of Finances
  • 22. Education in the US A Primer Acquiring an F-1 VISA • Overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) • Institutions must be approved and certified • Only designated officials may approve I-20 • Documentation outlined by SEVP • SEVP: Student and Exchange Visitor Program • Student Exchange and Visitor Immigration System
  • 23. Education in the US Partner Relationships Create a solid partnership • Frequent communication • Updates with changes • Transparency in business practices • Clarity in professional fees • Visits to partners and from partners • Reasonable response time to inquiries and concerns
  • 24. Education in the US Partner relationships Research partner institutions • Know what is offered • Inquire about the culture and climate • Understand available services for students • Establish and use contact information • Respect Admission policies • Meet Admission deadlines • Learn Costs and scholarships
  • 25. Education in the US Partner Relationships Professional Development and Membership • AIRC: American International Recruitment Council • NAFSA: Association of International Educators • AACRAO: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers • NAIS: National Association of Independent Schools • NACAC: National Association of College Admissions Counselors • AIEA: Association of International Education Administrators
  • 26. Education in the US Partner relationships Professional Development and Membership • IIE: Institute of International Education • Association for the Advancement of International Education • ASSIST: American Secondary Schools for International Students and Teachers • Education USA • CIEE: Council on International Education Exchange • NCAA: National Collegiate Athletic Association
  • 27. Education in the US Partner relationships Ethical Practices Institute for Global Ethics “The hard right over the easy wrong” Rushworth Kidder
  • 28. Education in the US A Primer Contact information Colleen Grover, Director of International Initiatives Husson University One College Circle Bangor, ME 04401 USA +1 207 404 5640 office +1 207 944 3468 cell Skype: cc.grover