What Types of Education Exist?

When you think about pursuing postsecondary education, you might think that 4-year colleges are your only option. People might be asking you, “Are you going to college?” However, there are actually many different types of postsecondary education.

Community College

Community colleges, sometimes called junior colleges or 2-year colleges, are low-cost public schools. They offer a variety of educational opportunities, including getting a degree called an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) after you complete the required courses. They may also offer more specialized programs for specific jobs, like nursing, carpentry, or electrical work. Different programs take different amounts of time to complete—if you go to school full-time, you can get an associate’s degree in about 2 years.

If you graduate from a community college and want to continue your education and get a bachelor’s degree, you can easily transfer to a 4-year college. The 4-year college will give you 2 years of credit for the coursework you have completed at the community college so that it should only take 2 additional years for you to get your bachelor’s degree.

Community colleges are good!

Community colleges may be an excellent option for you. They are usually more affordable than other schools, and they may have a campus closer to where you live. Furthermore, community colleges let you try going to college for 2 years before deciding whether or not you want to continue at a 4-year college or university.

Technical School

Like community colleges, you go to a technical school for 2 years. The big difference is that a technical school usually only teaches you how to work in a specific field. For example, it might teach you specific skills you need to work in restaurants, hotels, fashion, the computer industry, or some other fields. While community colleges and 4-year colleges generally offer an education that introduces you to many different fields, technical schools are designed to prepare you for certain field in which you can get a job.

On-the-Job Training

Technical school is one type of vocational training. Another type of vocational training is “on-the-job training.” With on-the-job training, you get a job and your employer will teach you what you have to do.

One common type of on-the-job training is an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships offer a structured way to learn a skilled occupation, craft, or trade. You can find information on state-approved apprenticeship programs on the Missouri Registered Apprenticeship website.

Four-Year Colleges and Universities

When most people think of “college,” they think of a school you go to full-time for 4 years or until you get a bachelor’s degree. At a college or university, you will take a diverse set of classes that may teach you about many different things, including history, math, languages, and sciences. Eventually, you will choose a major, which is a focus that lets you specialize in a certain field and prepares you for working in that field after you graduate. If you study full-time, you may finish in 4 years, though some students take longer.

What's a university?

Four-year colleges offer bachelor’s degrees. Universities offer bachelor’s degrees, but they also offer graduate education to students who want to get master’s degrees, Ph.D.'s, or other advanced degrees.

Resources About Higher Education for Students with Disabilities

  • Going to College is a great website that explores ways to think about what you want to do, what college life is like, and how you can plan for college.
  • Think College has important information for students, families, and professionals about how people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can succeed in higher education.