Higher education — it’s talked about all the time, but what is it? In the United States, higher education is considered any schooling beyond high school. It has become an increasingly important avenue for career and salary advancement. Higher education includes the following:
Colleges and universities. When most people speak of higher education, they are referring to colleges and universities. Universities grant degrees in various subjects and operate as centers for research and learning. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than half of Americans have attended a college or university. Only 27 percent, however, have actually earned a college degree.
Liberal arts college. A liberal arts college is a four-year institution that focuses on the study of liberal arts. Liberal arts colleges are geared more toward the acquisition of knowledge and less toward specific professions.
Graduate school. Of the 27 percent of Americans who obtain a degree from a college or university, some stay in school a little longer and attend graduate school. Graduate schools offer a level of specificity not attainable at the undergraduate level. Popular examples include law school or medical school. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that about 10 percent of Americans hold graduate degrees.
Community college. Community colleges are less expensive alternatives to the standard four-year college or university. Community colleges also serve as a stepping-stone for less equipped students, making the transition from high school to college. Most community colleges offer a two-year associate's degree. Community colleges are also known as junior colleges or city colleges.
Institutes of technology. Institutes of technology focus on an array of careers involving technology. The primary goal of an institute of technology is to give the student necessary skills to land a job immediately upon graduation.
Trade schools. Also known as vocational schools or career colleges, trade schools are similar to technical schools in that they prepare students for a specific career. Examples include beauty school, welding school, chef school, bartending school or truck driving school.
Many higher education options exist for those looking to enhance their education and improve their earning potential.