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Three Types of Colleges

The word "college" often refers to many different categories of schools. What kind of school you wish to attend is a personal decision that can shape the course of your career path. Take a look at the three different types of colleges here to gain a solid understanding of the options you'll have when you start researching schools.

  • Traditional Four-Year Colleges and Universities

Four-year colleges are the types of schools that most people think of when they say the word "college." Four-year colleges offer a comprehensive education. At this type of college you will not only choose something to major in, you will also receive a well-rounded education in other subjects. Students earn a bachelors degree at four-year colleges, which is the standard undergraduate degree. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees are the most common, but a variety of bachelor's degrees by other names are also granted.

Bachelor's degrees are typically awarded following successful completion of a four-year, full-time program. Programs in some fields of study or at some institutions can be longer than four years. It may take more than four years if a student takes on a double major, or if they take a semester off, and or take lighter class loads. There are both public and private colleges and universities in the United States.

  • Two-Year Colleges and Community Colleges

Two-year institutions are typically referred to as community or junior colleges. These institutions award the associate degree Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) ? following successful completion of a two-year, full-time program. Two-year colleges allow you to earn a degree in two years instead of four; but the two-year degree, or associate's degree, is not as valuable as a bachelor's degree. There are two basic types of programs at community and junior colleges. Some programs are strictly academic and designed to prepare students to transfer to four-year institutions with bachelors degree programs. Others are more practical or focused and provide career training in specific areas.

Class size is generally smaller at 2-year schools and students are able to receive individual attention. Two-year schools are often a more affordable option to a 4-year college as well. The state and local communities publicly support most community and junior colleges, although some are private. Some private two-year colleges are proprietary which means that they are there to earn a profit.

  • Trade and Technical Schools

Trade schools exist for the express purpose of giving its students the skills needed to perform a certain job or jobs. These schools give students very specific skills in particular areas so that they can find a job in that area. Specialized programs offer training in a technical area such as medical technology, business, cosmetology or computer programming. The length of time needed to complete these programs can vary from several months to two years. Few general education classes are required in these kinds of programs.

Technical and Trade schools are important in that you take courses that are specifically focused on a particular career and you become well suited for work in that field. Unfortunately, in these programs you often don't receive a general education. This means that your skills are very focused and don't easily allow you to adapt your skill set to a different career path. This can prove to be a hindrance should you choose to pursue a different career later.

*With all three different types of colleges, there are both private and public schools.

Publicly supported schools are generally state colleges or universities or two-year community colleges. These institutions obtain nearly all of their funding from the states in which they are located. Private schools generally cost more to the students because they do not receive the same crucial funding from the state and federal government.

By Top School .US Staff

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