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Back to School in the USA Posted by on Sep 20, 2017 in Culture, English Language

Summer is officially over, as we move into fall. For students all across the US, September is the month they go back to school. This is an exciting time of the year. They start a new grade, meet new teachers, get new books, and get to know new classmates. There are also quite a few exciting events at the beginning of the school year. Let’s learn what it’s like going back to school in the USA.


Back to School in the USA

Grosse Pointe South (my high school!) Image by M Gleason from flickr.com.

Students in the USA typically go to school from 7-8AM until 2-3PM from Monday to Friday. Elementary school students usually stay with the same teacher for most of the day and study different subjects such as math, social studies, and English. Students in middle school and high school typically have several different classes with different teachers each day. Some schools have four 90-minute lessons a day (block scheduling), while others have six or seven 60-minute lessons. In all schools, students will have a lunch break in the middle of the day. In some schools, students have a homeroom where they begin and end the school day.


A typical American classroom. Image by Historic Bremen from flickr.com.

There are required and elective classes in most American schools. Required classes are those that all students must take. These include math, science, history, PE, and language. Elective classes can be chosen by students. Some students choose to take a music class, while others may choose something such as drama or journalism. A student’s day will feature a mix of required and elective classes. Some students also sign up for study hall, where they get a class period to work on their homework and study. High school students may sign up for AP (Advanced Placement) classes, which can earn them college credit if they pass the exam. Here’s what a typical day may look like for a high school student:

  • 8-8:50: Algebra
  • 8:55-9:45: AP Biology
  • 9:50-10:45: PE
  • 10:50-11:30: Lunch
  • 11:30-12:20: Spanish
  • 12:25-1:15: US History
  • 1:20-2:10: Band
  • 2:15-3:05: English Literature

As you can see, it’s a busy day for students in American schools! When the bell rings, though, there’s still a lot more to do.

Extracurricular Activities

A high school football game.
Image by Bill Rice from flickr.com.

Extracurricular activities are things that students do after school. Some play sports for the school’s team, such as football, basketball, tennis, or swimming. Others may write for the school newspaper or join the cheerleading squad. There are also several clubs that students can join, or they can become a member of the student council. Many students take part in several extracurricular activities. After doing those, they still have to go home and do their homework or study for their exams. Many students stay busy from the early morning until late at night.

Special Events

Homecoming is an exciting time!
Image by Mark Metzler from flickr.com.

There are many special events throughout the school year for American students. In the fall, high school students celebrate homecoming. There’s usually a parade and a big football game. Many former students return home for this event, so that’s where the name comes from. Students may also vote on a homecoming king and queen. The celebration ends with a big dance. Typically, boys will ask girls to accompany them to the dance. Many students dress up and go out to dinner in a group before the dance.

Speaking of football, games usually happen on Friday nights and are a big part of the high school experience. It’s a very social event, as students will gather with their friends before and after the game. Actually, sometimes students are too busy chatting with friends to even watch the game!

That’s not all that’s going on outside of class. There are also performances throughout the year by the school orchestra, band, and choir. Acting and comedy groups also put on shows from time to time. Some schools even have make their own television programs. There’s lots to do both in and out of class for American students.


Where are you from? What is a typical day like for students in your country? What kind of activities do students do outside of school? Leave a comment and let us know!

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About the Author:sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.