How is Secondary School Different From High School?

How is Secondary School Different From High School
School levels

It can be difficult to understand the differences between high school and secondary school since there are so many different terms, words, and phrases for various parts of the education system across different countries. Between high school, secondary school, senior secondary school, preparatory school, and college, how do you keep all of these terms straight?

It’s important to know that a student’s diploma will mean something similar all over the globe, no matter whether the title is a high school or a secondary school. During this guide, we will delve into the differences between secondary school and high school.

What is secondary school?

Secondary school means the school offered after primary school and before higher education like a university. Most countries provide part of secondary school as optional schooling in preparation for higher education.

But what exactly is a secondary school in the United States? There is no such thing as a secondary school in the United States, but middle school or grades six through eight and high school or grades nine through 12 could be considered part of the secondary school education since they are offered after elementary school. But most people will not refer to middle school or high school as a secondary school in the United States.

Is secondary school the same as high school?

Secondary school education is similar to what is known as high school education in the United States. As discussed above, secondary school refers to schooling after primary school or elementary school, so in the United States, that would include grades six through 12. But once a student reaches grade 9, they are considered a high school student. A secondary school in many English-speaking countries around the world is equivalent to or similar to a high school in the United States.

High school in the United States and Canada

In the United States, high school refers to grades nine through 12 and is required education. When a student graduates from high school, they typically either go on to college, university, or the military or enter the workforce. The situation is similar in Canada. Secondary school consists of grades nine through 12 and afterward, Canadian students go on to college or university. High school education refers to grades seven through 12 in Quebec.

Secondary school in Australia and New Zealand

Schooling changes a little in the oceanic countries of Australia and New Zealand. School is required until grade 10, and there are schools known as secondary school and senior secondary school. After grade 10, which concludes secondary school, students can either enter the workforce or an apprenticeship or attend senior secondary school, which refers to grades 11 to 12 as preparation for a university or training school.

Secondary school in the United Kingdom

There are two types of secondary schools in the United Kingdom. Lower secondary school is required and is meant for students from the ages of 12 to 16. After students complete lower secondary school, they are able to continue to upper secondary school for ages 16 to 18, and this is seen as preparation for university.

Is college a secondary school?

College is not considered a secondary school in most cases. Secondary school is usually considered the education a student receives before they attend college or university. But in countries like South Africa, the terms college, secondary school, and high school are all used interchangeably.

What to do after high school or secondary school

If you are about to complete high school or secondary school, here are a few options for what to do afterward:

  • Higher education. College and university is an excellent option for many students after high school or secondary school. You can earn a degree and advance your career while making lifelong friends and learning more about yourself.
  • Apprenticeship. If you know exactly what you want to do and want some real, on the job training with a professional in order to get to the next level of your career, an apprenticeship might be a good option for you. Common apprenticeship areas include fields like construction, health technology, installation, maintenance, and repair.
  • Training program. There are also a ton of training programs out there that will lead to a specific career, instead of taking time to earn a degree. Many people choose training programs because it gives them a particular focus that can lead to a good job in less time than a four-year degree. You could become a dental hygienist, IT technician, computer programmer, web developer, paralegal, or therapy assistant through a training program.
  • Enter the workforce. Many people choose to enter the workforce right after high school or secondary school. If you already know what you want to do and are qualified, this could be the right option for you, especially if you want to save money or spend some time traveling before starting college and university.
  • Join the military. Joining the military is a huge decision, but if you want to serve time for your country while gaining experience and benefits, it could be the best option for you.

The guide will help you get into some of the differences and similarities between secondary and high school.


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