Types of Colleges and Universities

For the sake of simplicity, we’re not going to delve into the technical differences between the types of colleges and universities. Rather, we want to explain the basics of a few broad types of schools:  Traditional University (4 year), Career College (2 year), Trade School.  For the record, some Career Colleges can indeed be four year schools.  And many universities do have two year educational programs.  The lines are by no means hard, but there are some basic qualities that can help identify some of these types of schools.  Some of these are listed below:

Traditional Universities

Traditional universities are likely the most well known of these types.  This is the type of school most commonly attended by high school graduates, where a major course of study is selected, and the next four years are spent learning about this major.  In addition, however, students at traditional universities often also learn subjects outside of their chosen field of study.  For example,  a student may be pursuing a career in astrophysics.  While they will certainly learn about this subject, they will likely also have classes pertaining to history, English Literature, etc.  These don’t necessarily have anything to do with astrophysics, but are part of the standard curriculum at many traditional universities.

Career Colleges

These types of schools focus solely on the area of study chosen.  For example, if you go to a career college to become a medical assistant, then all of your courses will revolve around that subject.  That is the main focus – preparing students to enter the workforce fully trained, and in less time. One of the benefits of this more focused curriculum is that graduation usually occurs much more quickly.  Where it may take four years to earn a Bachelors Degree in a traditional university, it may only take two or three years to earn at a career college.  Career Colleges can often provide training in which you can earn a degree type ranging from a certificate all the way to a Masters Degree.  Career colleges are also often built for a different type of student.  Traditional universities typically encompass the “college crowd.”  Recent high school graduates, young adults, etc.  Career colleges are most often attended by working adults!  This is because many working adult students need a condensed program so they can finish more quickly than they would at a traditional university.  In addition to the shortened program length, career colleges often also have a variety of options in terms of flexible course schedules, including day, evening and even online classes.  Career colleges also often start new courses much more frequently than traditional universities – often monthly!  Whereas you may need to wait for an entire semester to jump into a traditional university program, you may only have to wait a few weeks to begin training at a career college.  One downside to career colleges is that, depending on the area of study, tuition rates can be higher as compared to traditional universities.

Community Colleges/Junior Colleges

One off-shoot similar to a traditional university that we should mention are community colleges, or junior colleges.  For all intents and purposes, community colleges are often very similar to traditional universities, but only focusing on two year programs (Associates Degrees).  These types of colleges are also typically much less expensive than traditional universities or career colleges.  These are often a great option for students who want to spend less money on their prerequisites (required basic courses), before jumping into the more specific degree-related courses at a traditional university.  Of course, you need to make sure your credits will transfer before you start down this path.

Trade Schools

Lastly, trade schools are smaller schools that perhaps focus on one program or course of study.  Examples might be cosmetology schools, or schools that only focus on HVAC training.  Technically, these are often rolled into the career colleges group, as they focus on these programs alone and have shorter graduation times, such as the career colleges do.  The only difference here is that many career colleges offer training in a number of fields, not just one.  Otherwise, they operate in much the same way.

Lastly, it is worth noting that some schools offer online courses, and some do not.  This is true across all of the types of schools discussed above.  To find out more about the pros and cons of online learning vs. classroom learning, head over to THIS PAGE which provides some more insight into these options.

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