How are US schools compare to those in other countries?

U.S. Schools: Not That Bad

America’s educational system is easier than those in China and India—but it’s still teaching valuable life lessons

  • Indian students in the same grade as his teenage daughters were two or three years ahead in math, physics, biology, and even subjects like world history and English literature.
  • It can take longer for Indians and Chinese to develop crucial real-world skills that come more easily for some Americans. Yes, U.S. teens work part-time, socialize, and party. But the independence and social skills they develop give them a big advantage when they join the workforce. They learn to experiment, challenge norms, and take risks.
  • There is no doubt that U.S. education can and should be improved. In the global economy, skills are going to provide the competitive edge. But it will take more than math and science. Our children also need to learn geography, literature, language, and culture. Creativity and innovation come from a broad education and independent thinking. We need sociologists and historians as well as mathematicians.
  • we need to create the excitement and demand that makes our children want to become engineers and scientists (, 10/26/07). There is no shortage of these skills in the U.S., but these professions just aren’t cool. In India and China, engineers and scientists are regarded highly; here they are called nerds or worse.
  • Our competitors are working very hard to be innovative and entrepreneurial like us. There are many things we need to fix—not just math and science education. We need to compete on our strengths, not theirs.

The Science Education Myth

Last Updated: June 3, 2008

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Why go to college?

May be a better question is, “What do you want to do for the rest of your life?

In 1997, President Clinton referred to education as “the fault line between those who will prosper in the new economy and those who will not“.

A college education will offer you:

  • Gain information and skills that you’ll use for the rest of your life
    • Expand your knowledge and skills.
    • Express your thoughts clearly in speech and in writing
    • Grasp abstract concepts and theories
    • Increase your understanding of the world and your community
  • More Money/Future earnings
    Though money isn’t the only reason to consider a particular career, remember that a job that pays well offers more personal choices.

    • Statistics from U.S. Department of Education (2004):
    • In 1998, male college graduate, aged 25 to 34, earned 63% more than his counterpart who did not attend college.
    • According to the 2001 U.S. Census:
      • college graduates earned $1 million more during their lifetimes than high school graduates
    • U.S. Census Bureau, 2004:
      • lifetime earnings for a person with a college degree is about 3 times that of a person without this education
      • $1.5 million versus $500,000
  • More Job Opportunities or career choices
  • More Freedom
    • living on a college campus with other students,
    • meeting people from all over the country and world,
    • studying abroad (see, it pays to learn a foreign language), and
    • choosing your own cool courses

Keep Your Options Open!

Thinking ahead doesn’t mean you have to know right now what you want to do “when you grow up.” It’s okay not to know yet.

*Note: The income is based on year round full-time workers. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2006 Annual Social and Economic Supplement

U.S. Mean Annual Earnings by Education

Worklife Earnings


Last Updated: June 3, 2008

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