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What is it like to go to class in a high school in the USA?

Main characteristics of studying a school year in the United States

An ocean and many kilometers separate us from the United States, but in spite of that, you are likely to have a more or less clear idea of ​​what an institute is like in the United States. The popular industry of the series and the American cinema brings us constantly to the school life of the country. You will have seen the famous yellow buses hundreds of times, without forgetting the ticket offices, the self-service dining rooms or the classrooms. And although it is obvious that we can not confuse fiction with reality, many elements are recognizable and that excites us when we experience them in the first person. Today we propose to review the main aspects that characterize the day to day in an American High School. And we will also do it with the help of our program participants school year in the United States, who tell us their experiences in the institute. We start!

The focus is on group work

Working in a group is not always easy. You have to be collaborative, good companions and patients. In the United States, it is very common for students to have to do work and projects in groups to be able to pass a certain subject. Likewise, it is very common that these works must be presented in high for the whole class, thus working participation and public exposure.

Regarding the difficulty of the classes, Luis Madrid is clear about it » I thought it would be harder at the beginning, but if you have a decent level of English you will not have any problem, as it is happening to me. The teachers are very close and you can always ask them any questions you have. »

The close relationship between teachers and students

American professors have a very good reputation. Unlike other school systems, in North American secondary education the close relationship that exists in teachers and students stands out. Julia Peris describes it perfectly «The teachers are willing to listen and help you and you can tell that they are passionate about their work. The students will also be willing to help you; They are very kind and educated with strangers. »

Classrooms and specialized buildings

The classrooms are specific by subject. This causes that the students have to change of classroom every time that a class finishes. There are institutes where there are different areas, for example, the art building and the science building. This type of dynamics allows students, in addition to changing their space, to change classmates according to the subject. Something that Maria Ballester, a student of the school year in the United States during 2017-2018, well remembered: » I know l or is being 7 hours of changing school class, with their thousand faces in the hallways; always with your coffee in hand and your headphones in your ears. »

Computers vs. textbooks

In the United States, traditional textbooks are losing the battle concerning computers and the digital environment. Although it depends on the center, it is common for many to resort to laptops as support material. Sara Álvarez remembers it this way: » I think that the speed of adaptation to a new environment depends on the person, it took me between 2 and 3 weeks, to feel comfortable at home and in high school. My institute was completely different from the one I had in Spain. One of the things that I liked most was that we did everything in the laptops that the center gave us, we never used books «.

Great variety of subjects

The American institutes offer their students a great variety of subjects, which cover all branches (science, letters, art, etc.). We can say that it is perhaps one of the aspects best valued by international students who come to the United States to study and find themselves with multiple options and possibilities. » I find it amazing how many options they have to choose subjects, there is a huge diversity. I, as «special» subjects, chose from photography to cooking and I enjoyed them a lot! Remember Manuel Figueras about his course.


Far from being a small part of the day to day school, who studies in the USA. You know that the duties (or what they call Homework ) are a very important part when dealing with a subject and to overcome it. Teachers usually assign homework and consider it a fundamental part of the studies. That is, it is as important to pass a test or exam to have the duties up to date.

School and social life in one

School and social life are almost completely intermingled. The institutes organize numerous parties and events that serve to build community even when classes end. In addition to the best-known festivities such as Christmas or Halloween, there are others less known but equally celebrated by American students. We are talking about the Homecoming or the Prom. The first serves to celebrate the beginning of the course while the last one coincides with the completion of the classes, but both require dressing «on the label» and celebrating it in style through a great dance at the institute.

The Spanish students who have lived some of these great events, always coincide in describing them as one of the best experiences of their lives. But ask Marina Encinas, a school year student in the United States in the 2017-2018 academic year » Prom is one of the best experiences I have lived here, there is nothing that can be compared, I would recommend it to everyone. »

Importance of sport

The values ​​associated with the sport are very important in the United States, where education revolves around it constantly. There are sports clubs for all tastes and profiles, and in the end, they always become the place where the closest friends are made. For Marco Antonio, it was not different » On my first day in high school I was a bit scared but things got better when I signed up for football. I made a lot of friends, I met a lot of people and I started talking twice, so people started getting closer. »

For Alec Barca soccer was also part of his day to day: «During my day today, I did not have much free time since when I left school I had soccer training and then when I got home I had to do homework. My host family went to all the matches, both when we played at home and when we played outside. »

«You have a lot of options and you can do up to three sports in a year. Here they take it very seriously and are very competitive, no matter what sport it is. This first quarter I have done cross country, which consists of running 5 kilometers through the countryside and up hills. The team is a very good opportunity to make friends. » Adds Luis Madrid.

Surroundings to the sports tour a good part of the social life of the institute. The students are the maximum fans of their teams, to whom they clothe and encourage in every occasion that they value. «There the games are played on the university’s football campus and they set up huge tents with televisions, food … where you spend all your time with the people around you, your friends, etc,» recalls Ane Crespo, who in 2016 -2017 completed its school year in the United States.

Volunteer programs

In the United States, students are accustomed to volunteering programs, either as part of their commitment to the school or outside. It is common that through the institute the students end up collaborating in food banks, animal associations, or in other types of projects, oriented for example to play with the elderly in nursing homes.