University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Guide to the US Education System

This guide will give you an overall view of how the school system works in the U.S. and will provide you with useful resources. As you will note by the table of contents, you can focus on one or multiple areas. Each section is a repository of relevant information where you can dig deeper into this topic. If you're a first-time visitor to this site, we suggest that you first look at the short introduction. It covers basic information and should give you a sense of other topics you might want to focus on.


  • 1. Introduction
    This chapter provides a brief description of how education in the United States is organized and funded.
  • 2. Overview
    This chapter explains in detail the structure of the United States education system. It also includes short discussions of important topics, like parental involvement and how age is calculated.
  • 3. Early Childhood Education
    This chapter explores the many options available for early childhood education and provides a number of websites to help you decide what type of child care/education is best for your family.
  • 4. Primary and Secondary Education
    This chapter discusses what subjects your child will study in primary and secondary school. The importance of extracurriculars in the U.S. Education System is also discussed.
  • 5. Resources for Choosing a Day Care or Preschool Program
    Once you have decided what type of care/education is best for your young child, this chapter will help you connect with resources for finding such care in Minnesota.
  • 6. Resources for In Home Care
    This chapter will help you connect with resources for locating a babysitter or nanny.
  • 7. Resources for Finding Playgroups
    This chapter provides a brief description of playgroups and connects you with resources for locating a playgroup in the Twin Cities.
  • 8. School Age Child Care
    This chapter discusses before and after school care for children already in primary school, including important factors to consider when choosing a program for your child.
  • 9. Resources for Choosing a School
    This chapter looks at the important characteristics and questions to consider when deciding what primary/secondary school your child will attend. It also contains some suggestions for how parents can find out more about the schools they are considering.
  • 10. Immunization Requirements
    This chapter lays out the immunizations required for children entering preschool and primary/secondary school in Minnesota.
  • 11. High School Curriculum Options
    This chapter looks that the different curriculum options for your high school student, including advanced placement (AP) classes and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
  • 12. Gifted and Talented
    This chapter discusses many of the options available for gifted and talented students in Minnesota, including programs for post-secondary credit and distance learning programs.
  • 13. Assessment and Testing
    This chapter looks at the standardized tests required by the federal government and the state of Minnesota. It also provides information on how parents can view the test results.
  • 14. Elementary and Secondary School Logistics
    This chapter provides information on topics, other than education, that are important to consider when sending your child to school. The topics include transportation, enrollment procedures, parent-teacher conferences, and meals.
  • 15. Resources for GLBT Youth
    This chapter gives a brief description of the Twin Cities GLBT youth resource “District 202.”
  • 16. Summer Camps
    This chapter describes some of the summer education options for your child in Minnesota. There are many programs available, with concentrations ranging from music to math!
  • 17. ESL (English as a Second Language) Opportunities
    This chapter looks at a number of programs that focus on improving English language skills.
  • 18. Exposing Children to Work Ethics
    This chapter discusses the importance of work ethics in American culture and how you can expose your children to work ethics.
  • 19. Volunteerism
    This chapter discusses the prevalence of volunteerism in the United States and the role it plays in American culture.
  • 20. Post Secondary Education
    This chapter looks at some of the characteristics of post-secondary education in the United States. It covers both academic and cultural considerations.
  • 21. Legal Issues
    This chapter describes some important legal considerations in the United States, including teenage driving, alcohol consumption, and school behavior policies.
  • 22. Commonly Used Acronyms
    This chapter explains some of the acronyms commonly used within the subject of Education.
  • 23. Commonly Used Terms
    This chapter explains some of the terms commonly used within the subject of Education.
  • 24. Been There, Done That
    This section gives individuals who have had experiences with the U.S. education system an opportunity to share them with others.