Types of Colleges
Choosing a College
Cost of College
Paying For It
Long Range Plan
What types of colleges*
|*Throughout this document, the term
"college" is used to refer to all postsecondary
institutions--technical colleges, junior colleges, community colleges, other
two-year colleges, and four-year colleges and universities.
More than half of all recent high school graduates in the United States
pursue some type of postsecondary education. In many other countries, a smaller
percentage of students go on for more schooling after high school. However, in
America, recent surveys show that most parents want their children to get some
college education. There is a wide range of higher education options in the
United States. For this reason, your child is likely to find a college
well-suited to his or her needs.
There are two basic types of post-secondary education institutions:
- Community, Technical, and Junior Colleges
Many kinds of colleges offer programs that are less than four years in
length. Most of these schools offer education and training programs that are two
years in length or shorter. The programs often lead to a license, a certificate,
an associate of arts (A.A.) degree, an associate of science (A.S.) degree, or an
associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degree.
- Four-Year Colleges and Universities
These schools usually offer a bachelor of arts (B.A.) or bachelor of science
(B.S.) degree. Some also offer graduate and professional degrees.
Community, Technical, and Junior Colleges
Colleges with programs that are less than four years in length are often called community
colleges, technical colleges, or junior colleges:
Community Colleges: These are public, two-year colleges. They
mostly serve people from nearby communities and offer academic courses,
technical courses, and continuing education courses. Public institutions are
supported by State and local revenues.
Technical Colleges: These are generally colleges that have a
special emphasis on education and training in technical fields. However,
although some technical colleges offer academic courses and programs, not all
technical colleges offer two-year programs that lead to an associate of arts or
science degree. Technical colleges may be private or public. Junior colleges and
community colleges that offer many technical courses are often called
Junior Colleges: These are generally two-year colleges that
are private institutions. Some junior colleges are residential and are attended
by students who come from other parts of the country.
Some programs at two-year colleges lead to an A.S. or A.A. degree in an
academic discipline. These academic programs are often comparable to the first
two years of a general academic program offered by a four-year college or
university. In many cases, two-year degrees can be transferred to four-year
schools and credited toward a B.A. or B.S. degree.
Many junior and community colleges offer technical/occupational training, as
well as academic courses. For example, many cardiovascular technicians, medical
laboratory technicians, and computer technicians received their education and
training at junior colleges, community colleges, and/or technical colleges.
Many junior, community, and technical colleges offer technical programs in
cooperation with local businesses, industry, public service agencies, or other
organizations. Some of these programs are formally connected to education
programs that students start in high school; they are often referred to as
"tech-prep" or "school-to-career" programs. [Footnote: These
"school-to-career" or "tech-prep" programs often provide
students with an opportunity to learn new skills by working for a local employer
and by taking high school courses that link with courses offered at local
Two-year colleges such as community colleges often operate under an
"open admissions" policy that can vary from school to school. At some
institutions, "open admissions" means that anyone who has a high
school diploma or GED certificate can enroll. At other schools, anyone over 18
years of age can enroll or, in some cases, anyone deemed able to benefit from
the programs at the schools can enroll.
Application requirements at colleges with two-year programs and shorter
programs may include a high school transcript -- a list of all the courses your
child took and grades earned in four years of high school -- and college
entrance examination scores as well. Some schools have programs that allow
"open admissions," while other programs in the same school --
particularly in scientific or technical subjects -- may have further admission
requirements. Since requirements vary widely, it is important to check into
schools and programs individually.
Four-Year Colleges and Universities
Students who wish to pursue a general academic program usually choose a
four-year college or university. Such a program lays the foundation for more
advanced studies and professional work. Four-year colleges and universities
offer bachelor's degrees (the B.A. and B.S.) in most areas in the arts and
sciences, such as English literature, foreign languages, history, economics,
political science, biology, zoology, chemistry, and in many other fields.
Here are the main differences between four-year colleges and universities:
Four-Year Colleges: These are post-secondary schools that
provide four-year educational programs in the arts and sciences. These colleges
confer bachelor's degrees.
Universities: These are postsecondary schools that include a
college of arts and/or sciences, one or more programs of graduate studies, and
one or more professional schools. Universities confer bachelor's degrees and
graduate and professional degrees.
When a student earns a bachelor's degree it means that he or she has passed
examinations in a broad range of courses and has studied one or two subject
areas in greater depth. (These one or two subject areas are called a student's
"major" area(s) of study or area(s) of "concentration.") A
bachelor's degree is usually required before a student can begin studying for a
graduate degree. A graduate degree is usually earned through two or more years
of advanced studies beyond four years of college. This might be a master's or a
doctoral degree in a particular field or a specialized degree required in
certain professions such as law, social work, architecture, or medicine.
What kinds of jobs are available to college graduates?
Certificates and degrees earned by graduates of two-and four-year colleges or
universities usually lead to different kinds of professional opportunities. Many
professions require graduate degrees beyond the traditional four-year degree,
such as a medical degree or a law degree. For example:
- A course of study in bookkeeping at a community college generally prepares a
student for a job as a bookkeeper.
- A four-year degree in economics may prepare a student for any one of several
jobs in a bank or a business.
- A four-year degree in English may serve as background for getting teacher
certification in the subject or for being an editor with a magazine.
In Chart 1 below there is a partial listing of different occupations and the
educational background generally required or recommended for each. Some people
who go on to acquire jobs in the four-year-college column obtain a graduate
degree or some graduate education, but many of these jobs can be filled by
people who do not have more than a four-year college education. For more
information on the educational requirements of specific jobs, contact a guidance
counselor or check the Occupational Outlook Handbook in your library.
Examples of Jobs Requiring College
Medical Laboratory Technician
Medical Record Technician
Water and Wastewater Treatment
and Refrigeration Technician
Computer Systems Analyst
Public Relations Specialist
|More Than Four Years of College
-- (Various Graduate Degrees Required)
Public Policy Analyst
From: "Preparing Your Child for
College" Copyright© 2000-01 The U.S. Department of Education, All