The American college system
The word "college" is a general term for university. It is sometimes used instead of "institute" (for instance, the College of business studies), or to define a division inside a university: the College of Music.
After that, if you want to go on studying one or two years, you may prepare a Master's Degree, an equivalent of the French Maîtrise, and then a Doctorate, also called Ph.D (Philosophiae Doctor): this term is an equivalent of the French Doctorat.
The first year at college, you are called a freshman, the second, a sophomore, the third, a junior and the fourth, a senior. Before you get your BA or BS you are an undergraduate, and if you decide to prepare a Master's Degree you are a post-graduate.
In private universities the fees are extraordinarily high. At Harvard, for instance, the year 1999-2000 cost 35400 $ a year, that is to say 27 148 euros (tuition, accommodation and food included).
In state universities, students also have to pay to study, but the fees are less high as the government financially participates. Nevertheless, many students make low-interest loans or work as part-time waiters or waitresses on campuses to pay for their studies.
The access to higher education is not democratic: universities are very selective. So, poor people don't have a chance to go there except if they show promise in football, basket ball or baseball. In that case, they can get scholarships.
Once you are enrolled in a University, you have to do your best to stay there because of the points system. There is no final exam but a continuous record of marks and grades given to the students according to how well or how badly they are doing in all their courses.
Depending on where you live and which college you choose to go, you may have to live on a campus. A campus is a sort of town within the town, with its own buildings, bars, sport facilities...
These 8 universities are synonymous with excellence. Most politicians, famous lawyers come from one of them.
Some American state universities are also very famous and prestigious, among others Berkeley in California. This university is well known for its students marched during the Vietnam War to demonstrate against the war.
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