Types of Colleges
Four Year Colleges and Universities
Award a bachelor’s degree (B.A. – Bachelor of Arts or B.S. – Bachelor of Science) following the successful completion of a four-year, full-time program.
There are a variety of four-year institutions including:
Liberal Arts – emphasizes a broad undergraduate education. It offers exposure to the sciences, history, philosophy, music and art. Pre-professional training may be offered, but not stressed and are mostly private.
Large Private – typically has a liberal arts college as well as several specialized colleges and graduate programs in such fields as business, engineering, medicine, law, agriculture, nursing, and the arts.
State University – similar to large private schools, but receives funding from the state in which it is located. Generally lower in cost than private schools, although scholarships and financial aid may be harder to come by.
Two Year Colleges
Award an associate’s degree (A.A. – Associate of Arts or A.S. – Associate of Science) following the successful completion of a two-year, full-time program. Tuition is generally much less expensive than a four-year school, and few offer on-campus housing.
There are two basic types of programs at community colleges:
Transfer programs – offer courses parallel to the freshman and sophomore classes at four-year institutions intended to prepare students for transfer to those schools.
Career training – offer practical training in specific areas for students interested in finding immediate employment.
Military School – prepares students for service in the armed forces.
Technical/Trade School – offers intensive training in one specific discipline, such as carpentry, culinary arts, or massage therapy.
Art School/Institute – offers specialized courses in the visual, performing, and/or creative arts.
Online School – courses taken at home, rather than in a classroom setting.
For-Profit School – in business to make money, so careful research into its accreditation status is essential. Tend to offer technical and pre-professional courses of study.
Some ideas to think about when looking for a college that is a good fit for you.
Understanding College Selectivity
College selectivity is a measure of how difficult it is for students to get admitted. Much of the anxiety about "getting in" comes from students who are applying to a few colleges that admit a small percentage of their applicants.
A Selective College Is Simply a College That Does Not Admit Everyone
Selectivity is measured by the percentage of students who are admitted. The lower the percentage, the more selective the school is. Most colleges are selective to some degree. A small group of highly selective schools admit less than a third of applicants.
Most Colleges Admit Most of Their Applicants
Most colleges admit over half of their applicants. The average acceptance rate for all four-year colleges in the U.S. is 65.8 percent, according to a 2015 report from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling. So, your chances at the clear majority of colleges may actually be quite promising.
The Headlines Are About a Small Number of Highly Selective Colleges
Of the approximately 2,700 accredited colleges and universities in the U.S., only about 50 of them are considered highly selective. These are schools that typically admit fewer than 25% of all their applicants. If your heart is set on one of these colleges, it is a good idea to include some well-researched backup schools on your college list. You may very well be attending one of them.
Selectivity Does Not Mean Better Quality
Selectivity is simply this: the number of spaces available in the freshman class divided by the number of applicants. Multiply by 100. This is the percentage of admitted applicants and is called selectivity. That’s it. It’s a number. Nowhere in the formula for selectivity is there an indicator of educational quality. It doesn’t figure student engagement, accessibility of professors, class size…none of that. If there are a lot of applicants and not a lot of seats in the freshman class, then the university can be very selective. Quite simply: it’s a matter of supply and demand; in the case of very selective universities: there’s a lot of demand and very little supply.
Is it bad to attend a selective college? Absolutely not! But for every selective college there are hundreds of other less selective colleges where you can get an equally good education. College is your opportunity to grow socially and intellectually. Whether that occurs at an Ivy League or community college, a public or private school, with the right attitude and a commitment to making the most of the experience and opportunities afforded to you, you will be successful and happy anywhere you decide to enroll.