4-Year Colleges vs Technical Schools: Your Choice

College is not for everyone, but that does not mean you shouldn’t pursue some sort of higher education or job training. When you think about your future, what do you envision? Are you doing something you love, or are you just working for a paycheck?

If you are one of the many who is trying to make a decision about where to spend your money and invest your future, read on. This article provides a comparison of 4 year colleges and technical schools. Which one is right for you?

How to choose between 4-year colleges and technical schools:

Ask yourself these questions and then consider the benefits and disadvantages of each type of school.

What are your goals? Do you have a specific career goal? What are your educational goals? Do you want to learn as much as you can about a variety of subjects? Do you want to learn as much as you can about one specific topic (become an expert)?

What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Would you benefit from a shorter more targeted program?

Lifestyle. How will school fit into your life? Would you benefit from non-traditional scheduling such as online, evening, or distance learning? 4-year colleges and technical colleges both offer such options, but it varies by school so check with any schools you are interested in attending.

What do you need? Realistically, what sort of degree or training do you need to pursue your dreams? Research your desired field–know what the requirements are and how they compare to the programs you are considering. The US Department of Education website offers resources for career and training research.

Be a consumer. Check equipment; is it new and up-to-date? How does it compare to the equipment you will be using on the job? Trust me, this can be tedious but it is quite important. After graduation I realized I should have taken more time to research the computer programs employers expected me to know for technical writing jobs. Had I been better informed, I could have taken extra courses dealing specifically with those programs.

Investigate the following: campus size, current and former students, faculty and staff;

Find out if the school is accredited and licensed; Do they make extraordinary claims? Will your credits be transferable?

4-year Colleges

Some people like to learn just for the sake of learning, while some are more focused and driven and use school as a steppingstone for job advancement. If you are interested in more scholarly pursuits a traditional 4-year college might be your best option.

Benefits: liberal arts training applies to many fields, diverse topics to explore, prestige, “college life”

Disadvantages: expensive, time consuming, may get degree in area you no longer wish to pursue, high admission standards and prerequisites, job market may be slower upon graduation-may require additional training

Technical Schools

If college was for everyone, technical schools would not exist. Some people may feel a stigma is attached to technical schools. In a society where attending college has become standard, we lose sight of the value of skills training. People feel abnormal and may be angry if they don’t want to go to college but feel pressured to do so anyway.

Benefits: shorter duration, focused programs, easier admission standards, flexible scheduling, certifications not necessarily offered at 4-year colleges, hands on training

Disadvantages: may be viewed as less prestigious, can be expensive, may be less room for exploration of other subjects, accreditation, for-profit institutions

Many of the fastest growing jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree but do require post-secondary education (education beyond high school) These jobs include:

o Medical Assistants

o Social and human service assistants

o Home health aides

o Medical records and health information technicians

o Physical therapist aides

o Physical therapist assistants

o Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors

o Veterinary technologists and technicians

o Hazardous materials removal workers

o Dental hygienists

o Occupational therapist aides

o Dental assistants

o Personal and home care aides

o Self-enrichment education teachers

o Occupational therapist assistants

o Environmental science and protection technicians, including health

o Preschool teachers, except special education

o Respiratory therapists

For more information on job growth statistics see the Bureau of Labor Statistics webpage.

Remember, the best way to determine what is right for you is to simply know yourself and be informed.

Online Colleges and Degrees – Are They Legitimate?

Many working adults who wish to go back to college but are not able to attend a local campus during the day are finding that an online college is the perfect solution. A person can work during the day and pursue their degree at night and on the weekends. But while all online colleges offer certifications or degrees in various fields, not all credits and degrees obtained online are the same. As a result, certain credits may not be transferable to other colleges, and that certification or degree that you worked so hard for may not be recognized by many employers.

The following is a list of things that you should investigate when considering enrolling in an online school:

Accreditation: All colleges, whether it’s online or a typical “brick and mortar” campus must be accredited in order for the credits obtained there to be transferable and their degrees recognized as legitimate. However, not all online colleges receive accreditation from the same organization. A nationally accredited college does not carry the same weight as a regionally accredited one. A college that is regionally accredited is the most highly regarded, and the credits and degrees earned at these schools will easily transfer to other colleges and be recognized. A college that is nationally accredited, on the other hand, is not as highly regarded, and the credits and degrees earned at it will probably have difficulty transferring and being accepted. To check what type of accreditation a college has, you can check the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website at http://www.chea.org.

Educational Support: Some online college students have found that after enrolling, they received little or no support from instructors or faculty. Thus, it would be a good idea to verify if and when your instructors and perhaps tutors will be available to answer your questions and help you succeed. Along with that, ask about the student-to-instructor ratio. The lower the number of students for an instructor, the more he or she will be able to give individualized attention.

Tuition: While many online college tuition costs are in line with local colleges, some charge tuitions that are considerably higher. Most colleges base tuition on credit hours, but some online colleges may charge additional fees, such as for the use of their software or servers. Inquire about all of the costs involved so that your bill is not a shock when it arrives. Additionally, many online colleges, just like brick and mortar colleges, will offer financial assistance, which could come in the form of student loans, grants, or scholarships. Investigate these options first, as they could greatly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

Job Placement Assistance: Most likely your purpose in going back to college is to ultimately get a better job, so ask the college about job placement assistance. They also should be willing to share with you their most recent job placement numbers.

Attending an online college will take a lot of effort and discipline on your part. But in the end, you want to be assured that all of the time and effort you put into your endeavors will be rewarded. As you can see, not all online colleges are equal. But by investigating the above mentioned factors, you can be confident that the online college you chose was the right one for you.

Reasons Why Some Colleges Do Not Permit College Freshman to Have Cars on Campus

Most universities do not permit students to have cars on campus until their sophomore year. The main reason for this is space. For instance, if at Penn State (population 50,000+) every student had a car on campus, there would be no room to move. There are some good reasons, other than space, as to why cars are not allowed on campus.

With underage drinking on the rise, it is scary to have anyone under the influence on the roads, especially in an overcrowded college town. College students are now in an environment where the only person that can tell them “no” is themselves. Feeling the need to fit in, “no” is never uttered out of a newbie’s mouth, and it makes it difficult in making the right decisions. The experimentation or what I like to call “learning their limits,” is a scary cause and effect.

Most students consume well over their tolerance. The only way to “sober up” is by waiting it out and dealing with the sometimes painful hangover the following day. Some aren’t so lucky. There have been numerous occurrences of alcohol poisoning, death or accidents caused by this type of binge drinking. We have all been through it before. We drink a bit too much, we get the spins, and then we fall down, rolling around in our own vomit saying that we will never drink again. However, what usually happens after we recover? We drink some more, but we learned our limit. “I will never drink that much again!”

This is what happens to plenty of freshmen. There are no responsibilities other than school, maybe a part time job and practice if you are a student athlete. This is one of the underlining factors on why freshmen cannot bring cars onto campus. Could you imagine if one of them got behind a wheel? It’s a thousand times safer to have them use their own feet to get around rather than a 3,000 pound hunk of steel. Universities realize this and make it a strict policy.

After scaring the wits out of parents, let me bring it down a notch. Not all freshmen go crazy and binge drink, but the influence is there and most students are smart enough to call it quits and only a small few will overstep their boundaries. Universities also believe that if the freshman have no cars, then they can’t leave, forcing them to interact with other students and to walk around campus and get a feel for the college setting, where buildings are, etc. Most universities are surrounded by stores in walking distance that meet every students needs, from food to entertainment. It’s common for universities to provide a bus or shuttle service for free or low cost all over the college town.

The only reason freshman students may need a car on campus is for special needs purposes. If you fall within this category, then go to your campus police/parking office and let them know your situation. Some will oblige without you having to do anything, but most will make you provide proof and a payment, which is an added stress a freshman student could do without.