Post-Secondary School Options & NCAA Requirements

Colleges & Universities

Colleges offer various programs to serve students with different needs and goals. Learning about the types of colleges will help you find the best choices for you.

Public and Private Colleges
Public colleges are funded by local and state governments and usually offer lower tuition rates than private colleges, especially for students who are residents of the state where a college is located. Private Colleges rely mainly on tuition, fees and private sources of funding.  Private donations can sometimes provide generous financial aid packages for students.

For-profit Colleges
These are businesses that offer a variety of degree programs, which typically prepare students for a specific career.  They tend to have higher costs, which could mean graduating with more debt.  Credits earned may not transfer to other colleges, so be sure to check with the admission office at each college.

Four-Year and Two-Year Colleges
Four-year colleges offer four-year programs that lead to a bachelor's degree.  These include universities and liberal arts colleges. Two-year colleges offer programs that last up to two years that lead to a certificate or an associate degree.  These include community colleges, vocational-technical colleges and career colleges.

Liberal Arts Colleges
These colleges offer a broad base of courses in the liberal arts, which includes areas such as literature, history, languages, mathematics and life sciences.  Most are private and offer four-year programs that lead to a bachelor's degree.  These colleges can prepare you for a variety of careers or for graduate study.

Universities often are larger and offer more majors and degree options—bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees—than colleges.  Most universities contain several smaller colleges, such as colleges of liberal arts, engineering or health sciences. These colleges can prepare you for a variety of careers or for graduate study.

Community Colleges
Community Colleges offer two-year associate degrees that prepare you to transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor's degree. They also offer other associate degrees and certificates that focus on preparing you for a certain career. Community colleges are often an affordable option with relatively low tuition.

Vocational-Technical and Career Colleges
Vocational-technical and career colleges offer specialized training in a particular industry or career.  Possible programs of study include the culinary arts, firefighting, dental hygiene and medical-records technology.  These colleges usually offer certificates or associate degrees.

Colleges with a Special Focus
Some colleges focus on a specific interest or student population. These include:

Arts Colleges
Art colleges and conservatories focus on the arts. In addition to regular course work, these colleges provide training in areas such as photography, music, theater or fashion design.  Most of these colleges offer associate or bachelor's degrees in the fine arts or a specialized field.

Single-Sex Colleges
All four-year public colleges, and most private colleges, are coed.  But there are some private colleges that are specifically for men or for women.

Religiously Affiliated Colleges
Some private colleges are connected to a religious faith. The connection may be historic only, or it may affect day-to-day student life.

Specialized-Mission Colleges
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) focus on educating African American students.  Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) are colleges where at least 25 percent of the full-time undergraduate students are Hispanic.  HBCUs and HSIs may offer programs, services and activities targeted to the underrepresented students they serve.
boy on campus

Regular Admissions
Many schools have an established application deadline in which all applications must be received or postmarked.  Then students are notified of the schools decision usually on or before April 1st.

Open Admissions
Some schools do not have selective admission and accept all students who apply.

Rolling Admissions
Under this a school considers the application as soon as they have received all the information and paperwork needed. Notification of acceptance/rejection is sent as soon as decision is made.

Early Decision
Offered by some schools to applicants who are sure they want to attend a certain college.  If you apply this way, it 
should be your first choice school. Typically, applications are due in November and notifications are sent in December. Only do this application if you know you want to attend the school.  If you accept, it is binding and you are under obligation to attend this school and cannot apply to other schools.

Early Action
This is another option for early acceptance; but the applicant is not obligated to attend the college and may apply to other colleges.

Deferred or Delayed Admissions
Most colleges allow an accepted student to postpone attending for one semester or up to a year. Students must notify the school and request deferment.

These are non-degree options that lead to employment in a specific career field.

Associates Degrees 
You receive an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree after completing two years of study similar to the first two years at a four-year college or university. After receiving an AA or AS, you can transfer to many four-year colleges to complete the requirements for a bachelors’ degree. The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is awarded on completion of technological or vocational programs of study.

Bachelor Degrees 
You receive a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) after completing a four or five year, full-time program of study.

Graduate Degrees 
Graduate degrees can vary in the time to complete depending on the program and the student. Many students will first pursue a Master’s Degree and then can have the option of continuing into a Doctorate Degree (PHD) program. Some programs will allow direct entrance into a Doctorate program depending upon the area of study and the student’s abilities. Overall, general graduate degrees offer you the option to receive further education in a subject area. Most bachelors’ degrees also have a corresponding graduate (or masters) degree.
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