It's time to focus on the reason why you're going to the USA: to experience American higher education.

You've chosen this new experience because it's something different than what's on offer in the UK. There are a few important differences to note before you go.

In the classroom

Degrees in the UK are usually evaluated by large pieces of coursework and/or a final exam at the end of the module, term, year or degree.

In the US, classroom participation and regular testing/homework make a large impact on your result. 

For this reason, it's important to attend every class and make your voice heard in discussions.

Professors have office hours, and you should make use of them to make a good impression.

Marks

Academic work in the US is graded A-F. The numeric scale associated to these grades (4-0) is used to calculate the grade point average (GPA) of your entire qualification.

While we are not a credential evaluator, we do have rough conversion tables for reference to UK university grades.

Some universities publish the ranking of every student in a particular class, to encourage competition.

Calendar

The US academic calendar is slightly different to the UK. Universities can operate whichever term dates they choose, but in general they follow the below:

  • August: Fall (autumn) semester begins
  • December: Fall semester ends
  • January: Spring semester begins
  • May: Spring semester ends

Universities do have a summer semester from May to August, but this is usually optional. Students typically attend the summer semester to get a head start on the next academic year by earning extra credits, or to catch up on classes.

As well as the winter and summer breaks, the following holidays are observed:

  • Labor Day: first Monday of September
  • Veterans Day: 11 November
  • Thanksgiving Day: last Thursday in November
  • Martin Luther King Jr Day: third Monday of January
  • Spring break: usually first week in March
  • Memorial Day: last Monday of May
  • Independence Day: 4 July