The U.S. education system consists of 12 years of elementary and secondary education. Most students start school in the fall. The academic year runs from September to May and is divided into three semesters. The educational system includes a summer holiday break for post-secondary students. Historically, education was primarily for adults, but in the 21st century, children and teenagers alike can pursue a variety of interests and pursue a variety of careers.
Public universities are part of a university system. Often, these systems produce additional layers of governance for the campuses. The government appoints the chancellor and a board of trustees, which oversees budgets and admissions standards. Boards also coordinate degree programs and facilitate transfer of credits. In general, though, universities retain considerable autonomy within university systems. In some states, state boards are a key component of education policymaking, and some universities are part of university systems, while others are locally run.
School districts govern elementary and secondary education. These are typically composed of elected officials, although some are appointed by local officials. School districts also have their own superintendent. They are responsible for all public schools within their jurisdictions. School districts are also divided geographically; they may fall within a municipality or county. While many of these differences exist in the U.S., there are some fundamental differences that make the U.S. educational system so unique.