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What is an average school calendar in the U.S.?

My family is planning on going to the U.S. and I’ll have to go to school there. So, I’d like to know what is its school calendar. When do classes begin? How long is a semester? Are there two or three of them? How many weeks in a semester we have to attend classes? All questions are the basic rules, but the answers can be different for different countries.

Alexa Spicer

in Events and Holidays

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Aaron Lee on August 6, 2018

Are you talking about the K-12 schools or the higher educational establishments? The former usually takes about 180 school days. They begin in early fall and last till summer. In colleges and universities, there’s a bit different schedule. There are less studying days and some periods are devoted to exams or the preparation for it. There are usually two school semesters, the fall and spring ones, both in colleges and the regular schools. However, there are some higher educational establishments that run on a bit different system.

For school kids, almost whole summer is free with the exception of summer camps that may be held in various parts of the country. However, they are not obligatory. It’s just the mean to occupy a child. At the same time, K-12 students can enjoy more holidays than the college students. A semester is long and kids have to have free time to take a pause and rest. So, the fall semester has such holidays:

Labor Day (sometimes), the Thanksgiving holiday that lasts a few days, a fall break in some states, and the Christmas break that is also extended. There is also a winter break between the semesters sometimes, However, it largely depends on your location. Not all schools have it and some use different dates.

The spring semester usually holds a spring break that may or may not coincides with Easter that also has a free Monday afterward. Then, you have to wait until a summer break.

Of course, a study calendar of school students follows all federal and state holidays and, usually, the religious ones. So, you don’t have to study during Jewish holidays, Good Friday, and others if school regulations allow it.

You should also understand that there are many states and the customs and rules may be different in various parts of the country. So, you have to be more specific about a school or location if you want to know exactly how many weeks are in a semester.  

Karen Wright11 months ago

You mentioned a different system used by some higher educational establishments and didn’t tell anything about it. I suspect you’ve been talking about the trimester system. Am I right?

This is the system when an academic year is divided into three terms: the fall, winter, and spring one. Each term consists of approximately 14-16 weeks and has small breaks in-between. The spring one also covers summer and may be in the length of a full semester or a shorter session. Overall, the studies have to take up to 28-32 weeks, depending on the establishment.

Initially, all school calendars operated according to the semester system which later evolved into its three-term sibling. If you’ve known the original system for your whole life, I’d be hard to grasp how the new one operates. However, not all universities use it and you can choose the one that suits you the most.

Larry Warren11 months ago

Yes, there’s no universal school calendar for our country. Depending on the place, you may have classes begin at one point or another. The breaks are also different, as well as the whole curriculum. Of course, these are not big differences, but you should know them anyway.

In general, I think you’ve managed to describe the general outline of studying in the U.S because it’s hard to tell exactly how long is a semester. Anyway, checking your future school’s website should help to find the answers.


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