Whether you’re keeping your skills up to date or just getting started, pursuing education beyond your high school diploma or GED is a great way to acquire new skills and to get an edge on the competition. When it comes to choosing a degree program, you have many options that can help you get where you want to be faster.
- Four-year programs usually culminate in a bachelor’s degree. Many schools will also have an associated graduate school with programs for students pursuing master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees.
- Among universities, there is a wide variety of sizes, admission criteria and available programs, so it’s worth some research to find the best fit for you. One key difference is the distinction between private and public; state-funded public universities tend to be larger and may offer lower tuition to state residents, whereas private schools tend to be smaller and more expensive. Regardless, it’s a good idea to apply for financial aid and/or extra scholarships to make earning your degree more affordable.
- Students in two-year colleges either graduate in two years with either an Associate of Arts (AA)/Applied Science (AS) degree or transfer college credits to a four-year program to complete a bachelor’s degree. Whether you are pursuing an associate or a bachelor’s degree, two-year programs are very popular for students looking to continue working while in school and/or to reduce their expenses. They may also offer smaller class sizes and flexible schedules (e.g. night school or online classes).
- When choosing a two-year college, most people seek public community colleges. These have open-admissions policies requiring a high school diploma or GED and are non-residential campuses. Private junior colleges may require examinations or equivalent work experience for admission and can be residential.
Vocational (Technical/Trade) Schools
- For students who have a specific career in mind, vocational school is a good way to get the knowledge and hands-on training you need in skills that will be applicable to your career. You can get a vocational degree in a wide variety of careers in business, health, technology, legal, and skilled trades. Here is a list of some of the highest paying trade school degrees.
- It can take from one to four years to acquire a vocational degree. Some benefits of vocational school include avoiding general education courses, the smaller class size, lower cost, faster completion time, and less on-the-job training after you are hired.
Regardless of which path you take, it might not be easy, but it will be worth it. Choosing the right program to fit your goals will make earning that degree just a little bit easier.
By Annemarie Arnold