Planning for College or Trade School

School Choices

Which college you choose will depend on how you answer questions such as:

  • Do I want to be close to home?
  • Do I want the greater choices at a large university or the personal environment of a smaller school?
  • What school has the best program in the major I'm interested in?
  • Do I want to start at a community college to get the basics out of the way first?
  • How much can my family and I afford to spend on my education?

No matter what your answer, you'll probably be able to find a school that fits you. Here are brief, general descriptions of the different types of colleges. You can find out more about colleges on their websites.

Public universities: Generally, these provide the greatest variety of programs. All offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, and some offer professional degrees in medicine, dentistry, law and other fields. Some also offer associate's degrees. If you want a great education for less money and don't mind having some large classes, this might be just the place for you.

Private colleges and universities: If you like smaller classes and greater access to faculty, you might want to consider a private university and college. These schools all offer bachelor's degrees, while some also offer associate's and advanced degrees. Some private schools have joint programs with public universities in specialized fields. Private schools generally cost more than public universities, but financial aid is available to help with the costs.

Public two-year colleges: You may want to continue your education at a community college. You can follow several paths there. One leads to an associate's degree that prepares you for finishing a bachelor's degree. Other paths prepare you for entering the workforce. A big advantage of going this route is that you can usually find a two-year school near you, meaning you can save money by living at home.

Career and trade schools: If you're looking for a fast track to a career, one of these might be your best choice. Career and trade schools, more properly called proprietary schools, are privately owned and licensed. They offer programs in business, trade, technical, industrial and related areas.

Distance learning: Distance learning lets you take courses and even earn degrees without the traditional on-campus experience. The term includes courses and degrees offered through television, correspondence, CDs, interactive satellite and the Internet. Some schools also offer classes at locations other than their main campus, meaning you may find some offered where you live. Check with your guidance counselor or the college for more information.