The educational structure is similar to that of Britain; children start school at 6 years old and are obliged to stay within the schooling system until the mid-late teens (14-18 years old, depending on the state). Students are too obliged to study various key subjects: English, Science, Mathematics and Physical Education. It is these subjects, along with various electives (such as Performing Arts, foreign languages and Technology), that students are tested on and expected to get minimum results for in order to graduate. To ensure this, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) scheme mandates education at state level, guaranteeing all children a basic education before leaving school.
Once graduated, students have the choice whether to continue into higher education – going to college or university – or to enter the working world. Especially concerning those students coming from big cities, it is very common for students to further enhance their qualifications by studying for a degree.
In college or university, students have access to an incredibly varied range of curricular and non-curricular options: the United States are world famous for their inter-college sports leagues and debating clubs and furthermore have an excellent accompanying academic reputation thanks to the famous Ivy League. Degrees typically last 4 years though professional degrees (Law, Medicine, Dentistry, etc) take longer since, unlike in the UK, these degrees are not offered at undergraduate level. Students wanting a professional degree have to study at least 3 years as an undergraduate, or obtain the 4 year Bachelor degree, and only then can they go on to complete their degree of choice. After Bachelor level, graduates can go on to study a Masters and later a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) however it is usual for students to enter the working world at Bachelor level given obtaining this degree in itself is considered academically prestigious.
US education is certainly a complete one, both academically and vocationally, and thanks to strong government policy regarding curriculum and minimum achievements; it can guarantee this for all students.