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Exploring Colleges

 Types of Schools

Most postsecondary schools can be described as public or private, two-year or four-year. Public institutions are state supported. Private for-profit institutions are businesses.  Four-year institutions offer bachelor's degrees, and some offer advanced degrees.  Two-year institutions offer associate's degrees.  Less-than-two-year institutions offer training and award certificates of completion.

Here's a more detailed description of the kinds of schools you might hear about as you plan for your post-high-school.

Four-year college - grants bachelor's degrees (Bachelor of 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 are larger than colleges, focus more on scholarly or scientific research, and might 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.

Career school, technical school, or vocational/trade school - May be public or private, two-year or less-than-two-year schools. Career schools 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