Many of us looking to further our education often ask, “Where can I get into college?” In actuality, this is an extremely broad question with varied answers depending your academic goals and current life stage. With so many post-secondary education options out there, you really need to assess what fields you are interested in, and what your ultimate career or personal goals are in continuing your scholastic development. Below, I have listed several of the different sectors in higher education that help to serve the unique needs of different students.
1. Traditional Universities
These are your mom and pop schools, your meat and potatoes if you will. Both public and private traditional universities are the historic bedrock of post-secondary education in America and are the answer for many students upon graduating high school. These universities tend to require standardized test scores and have GPA requirements for incoming applicants who wish to spend the next four years on campus. The average traditional college student is 18-23 and seeking a bachelors degree. Tuition costs range from $3,000 a year for less expensive in-state schools to $40,000 a year for elite Ivy League level institutions.
2. Community Colleges
Often considered 2-year or associate degree colleges, community colleges are a great alternative for those who are not ready, qualified, or financially capable of attending traditional universities. Community colleges are often seen as preparation for students looking to transfer to traditional universities after a year or two. These city or county colleges are a cheap option to obtain transferable credits towards a university degree. These commuter students average between 18 and 23 years of age, but there are also many adults simply looking to improve technical skills or take courses for personal growth that find this option attractive.
3. Online Universities and Colleges
A more recent phenomenon in the post-secondary education space are the online schools. These fully accredited institutions service a population that was often forgotten or left behind by the traditional education system. Schools like the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University are two of the best know in this space, which serves an older population of adults that often don’t have time to attend scheduled daytime classes. The online education trend continues to grow with adults between ages 25 and 40 as they aim to further their career skills while maintaining their jobs and family lives. These programs run between $10,000 and $40,000 for a bachelors degree.
4. Trade and Technical Schools
These are very specific institutions aimed at preparing its students for a particular career. Massage institutes, truck driving, electrician, mechanic, and cosmetology schools are a few of the more popular options in this sector. These vocational programs are career oriented and subject specific as to ensure that the student has a mastery of the training and can begin working in the field upon graduation. Individuals of all ages looking to advance or change careers will attend such schools, as they are often the shortest route between training and employment. Their scope, however, is of course very limited.
So the honest answer to the question “Where can I get into college”, is almost anywhere you want. But you should first understand what your academic goals and life stage are such that you can decide on the option that best fits your needs.