The list is almost endless — colleges, universities, community colleges, private colleges, public colleges. But what are the differences between them, and where do you begin?
Once you know where you want to end up, then you have to find the right school to get you there. Here's a run-down of some of the options available after high school:
Community and junior colleges
Community and junior colleges generally offer 2-year associate degree programs. For students who decide to continue their studies in a 4-year program, the courses usually transfer to 4-year colleges.
Community colleges offer specialized job training in certain areas, much like vocational schools. They're affordable and prepare students to enter the work force immediately following graduation. They do not have residential facilities (dorms) and are fairly easy to get into.
Four-year colleges and universities
Four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in many fields of study. Many also offer graduate programs with opportunities to earn a master's degree, doctorate, or professional degree. The curriculum is usually broader than a 2-year school.
Public colleges and universities are subsidized by tax money from the state in which they are located and are generally less expensive than private colleges. However, the low rates are normally available only to residents of the state. Out-of-staters, or non-residents, usually pay higher rates. They also may have limited financial aid funds for students.
Private colleges, on the other hand, are funded through endowments, tuition, and donations. The cost of attending a private college is usually higher than a public university. But don't rule private school out only because of cost! Private colleges often offer financial aid options that make their cost feasible.
Ivy League Colleges Ivy League colleges are considered the most prestigious colleges, and are ranked among the best universities worldwide. Each one of these universities has top-ranked academics and award-winning faculty. The members of the Ivy League can also boast of beautiful and historic campuses.