Almost all students in the United States have the chance to attend college, and unlike many other countries, higher education is not nationally governed, but is standardized by accrediting agencies. Each school sets its own guidelines and has its own application procedures. Such easy access to education has allowed for the existence of a large and varying number of higher learning institutions. The words “school, university” and “college” are often interchangeable within the U.S. education system; however, there are differences. Many people say “college” when referring to any institution of high education, or to higher education in a general sense.
The USA has the world’s largest international student population, with more than 1,000,000 students choosing to broaden their education and life experience in the United States. Nearly 5% of all students enrolled in higher-level education in the USA are international students, and the numbers are growing. From the mid-1950’s, when international student enrolment was only just reaching 35,000, international education in the USA has come a long way.
Stagnating incomes for the middle class together with rising income inequality have raised questions about whether the United States remains the land of opportunity celebrated in the nation’s history and public philosophy. Recent research is showing that, the U.S. education system tends to reinforce rather than compensate for differences in family background. Strengthening opportunity requires greater, and more effective, investments in education.