With so much recruiting and marketing happening in the postsecondary-education domain, it's hard to tell your Walden from your William & Mary, or your Cornell from your Kaplan.
Higher education has long been a point of pride for the United States. Of all developed nations, it boasts the most thorough and high-quality system.
And this big reputation means big bucks. The higher-education sector is fast becoming a significant driver of the national economy.
With more and more institutions jumping into the game, the choice of which one to attend becomes all the more complicated.
Yet this choice is not less momentous for being complicated. That's why it's important that you achieve some basic understanding before beginning to make your choice.
This understanding begins with the ability the identity the kinds of colleges and universities that are out there.
There are essentially 4 categories of institutions of higher learning:
- Nonprofit private colleges and universities - These include many of the top-flight schools with which you're no doubt familiar -- Harvard, Duke, Stanford (to name a few). Nonprofit private colleges and universities tend to uphold stringent admission standards and to charge high tuition, but they also tend to offer generous need-based aid, which, if you qualify, substantially reduces your cost of attending.
- Public or state universities - These include the flagship behemoths and their regional satellites. Ohio State, The University of Florida, and California–Berkeley are a few of the more recognizable names. Public universities tend to have massive student bodies, but they tend also to charge lower tuition and uphold less stringent admissions standards.
- For-profit colleges and universities - Also known as career colleges, private sector universities, or proprietary colleges, for-profit colleges and universities have arrived on the scene pretty recently, by historical standards. University of Phoenix, Strayer University, and Capella University being three of the more recognizable names among them, for-profit colleges and universities tend to uphold fairly lax admission standards, but at the same time they tend to charge high tuition -- indeed, often rates on par with those of many of the elite nonprofit private colleges.
- Technical, trade, and vocational schools - These institutions train you for a career in the technical, electrical, or mechanical arts. They tend to uphold pretty liberal admission standards. Tuition can be high or modest, depending on the school.
This information may strike you as somewhat obvious, but it never hurts to review even those things that seem commonplace. When it comes to choosing a school, clear knowledge is elementary.