American High Schoolers: The Lucky Ones

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American High Schoolers: The Lucky Ones

Photo Credit: ludicsoul

Photo Credit: ludicsoul

Photo Credit: ludicsoul

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Someone who has experienced the change from a foreign school to an American one can corroborate that indeed the educational system can be sometimes a lot different, and this time I’m going to tell you this from my own experience.

Why the lucky ones?

I understand if anyone disagrees with this because sometimes school is not exactly the place where everyone loves to be, but it doesn’t mean it is always like this.

I have studied almost all my student life in Colombia and I finally moved to California in winter of 2017. Since the beginning I knew it was going to be different but I never imagined how much.

Let me explain you why the American high schoolers are seen as the lucky students and why this system can be envied by many students around the world.

The Prom is real!

For American students it is quite normal to celebrate Prom, Morp, Homecoming, etc… However, in most of Latin America (and in some other parts of the world, of course) this is something that can only be seen in movies, because even if there are graduation parties, there are no fancy celebrations where the queen or the king of the dance is crowned.

There is no uniform!

Okay, to be honest there are times when I miss wearing a uniform simply because I do not know what to wear to go to school, however the way you dress says a lot about you and sometimes is part of your free expression.
In many schools around the world -usually private schools- there are strict rules on how to dress, and even rules on how your hair should be combed or the color of nail varnish you use. Public schools are more permissive but the uniform is always essential.

I know it sounds crazy, but that’s completely true! In my previous school you couldn’t even use hair dyes of your favorite color or expose your piercings only because it was not “aesthetic.”.

Elementary School, Middle School and High School

Okay, this is not exactly a reason about being lucky but is an important part of the huge difference.

Outside of the United States you can find schools where you can study from elementary school until high school.

It sounds weird, right? Well, this is going to sound weirder:

In many school systems there is no middle school as such. It’s only divided into elementary school and high school… so basically high school wouldn’t be only 4 years, it would be 7 or sometimes 6 years.

The Classes

Your classmates will always be the same as your classroom because it is not you who has to walk from one classroom to another, it is your teacher who has to.

The classrooms are usually never mixed between grades like in the American high schools where you can share the same classroom with people of ninth, tenth, eleventh or twelfth grade.

The classrooms are divided by grades, so you will always share your classroom with people of your same grade. Although this also depends on the size of the school, the truth is that in many schools this method is used, for example if the school is huge it can be divided as: Classroom 11A, 11B, 9A, 9B, etc.

Elective classes!? What is that?

The first time I heard about this, it was almost as if a miracle presented itself to me, and I’m not kidding.
In many schools, including the one I studied at previously, electives don’t exist and this will sound terrifying but all classes, ALL, are completely mandatory.

Sad fact: You can only know about electives  when you are in college.

In the American high school system you have the right to choose your classes according to your interests to go to college, however in my country things are very different, and even if your interest is (for example) to be an artist and taking advanced classes of math or physics is not completely necessary it’s still an obligation to receive those classes and approve them, of course also depending on the grade you are in.

Requirements to graduate from High School in Colombia (Math area):
6th grade: Math 6th grade
7th grade: Math 7th grade
8th grade: Algebra
9th grade: Algebra 2
10th grade: Trigonometry
11th grade: Pre-calculus
12th grade: Calculus, Advanced Calculus

So yes… School is not the most appreciated place maybe in any place or corner of the world, but its strictness and effectiveness may vary and that’s why the American high schoolers can be envied by foreign students.

And… perhaps with this little explanation some people can think foreign students within that educational system are more prepared for college than the American students, however, be careful, many times you have to take into account that the level of demand often doesn’t go hand in hand with excellence.