Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but learners may also educate themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. The U.S. educational system can be characterized by its large size, organizational structure, marked decentralization, and increasing diversity. Schools in the United States can be found everywhere, and the US continues to operate one of the largest universal education systems in the world. More than 81.5 million children and adults were enrolled in primary, secondary and post-secondary education in 2007. 6.8 million were employed as teachers teaching kindergarten through college.
School attendance is compulsory for students through age 16 in most states. Children generally begin school with kindergarten (K) at age five and continue through secondary school (grade 12) to age 18. Students completing high school may choose to attend a college or university, which offer
undergraduate degrees such as Associate's degrees or Bachelor's degrees (baccalaureate). The U.S. educational system comprises 96.000 public elementary and secondary schools plus more than 4200 institutions of higher learning.
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