Which School Is Right for You?
So, you’ve decided you want to advance your education. Now the question is which school is right for you? Some people make their decision based only on finances, but there is much more to consider. It’s also important to think about which subjects interest you and what you envision your future to look like.
Most postsecondary schools can be described as public or private, two-year or four-year.
Four-year institutions offer bachelor’s degrees, and some offer advanced degrees. Two-year institutions offer associate’s degrees. Less-than-two-year institutions generally offer training and award students with certificates of completion. However, it’s important to note that “four-year” degrees can be completed in less than four years or can take longer to finish – it all depends on the person, the school and the program.
Here’s a more detailed description of the kinds of schools you might hear about as you plan for your education:
College – A four-year college grants bachelor’s degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science). Some colleges also award master’s degrees.
University – A university grants bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and sometimes includes a professional school such as a law school or medical school. Universities tend to be larger than colleges, focus more on scholarly or scientific research, and can have larger class sizes.
Community college – A public two-year college granting associate’s degrees and sometimes certificates in particular technical (career-related) subjects. Some students start their postsecondary education at a community college and then transfer to a four-year school, either because a community college tends to be cheaper than a four-year college, or because admissions standards at community colleges are often less stringent than at four-year schools.
Junior college – Similar to a community college, except that a junior college is usually a private school.
Career school, technical school, or vocational/trade school – These terms are often used interchangeably. These institutions may be public or private, two-year or less-than-two-year. Career schools often offer courses that are designed to prepare students for specific careers, from welding to cosmetology to medical imaging, etc. The difference between technical schools and trade schools is that technical schools teach the science behind the occupation, while trade schools focus on hands-on application of skills needed to do each particular job.