What is Post-Secondary Education?

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  • 0:04 Getting Ready to Graduate
  • 0:28 What Is Post-Secondary…
  • 2:15 Public vs. Private Education
  • 3:04 A Note About Accreditation
  • 4:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

Expert Contributor
Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

There are many different choices one can make when deciding which post-secondary education program is best for them. This lesson will take a look at post-secondary education, what it is, and what choices are available.

Getting Ready to Graduate

Jill just started her senior year in high school. She's already taken her college admissions test but still struggles with deciding between going to study at a university versus going to beauty school. Her parents are pushing her to go for her bachelor's degree, but in her heart Jill really wants to become a hairdresser and get to work. She's overwhelmed by the choices that are out there and doesn't quite know what to do.

What Is Post-Secondary Education?

What Jill is struggling with are her choices in pursuing education at the post-secondary level. Simply put, post-secondary education is education after high school. Someone who graduates from high school and continues on to a state university, for example, is said to be pursuing a post-secondary education. When post-secondary education is discussed, most people think of colleges and universities. However, there are many post-secondary options available. Let's take a look!

Local community colleges are institutions that typically award degrees at the associate's, or two-year degree level, although some do offer bachelor's degrees. Another post-secondary option is public and private colleges. Although universities and colleges tend to be referred to as one and the same, colleges tend to be smaller in size than universities, with a more limited number of programs to choose from. Colleges award degrees, typically including bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, at the undergraduate and graduate level.

There are also public and private universities, which are larger four-year institutions that also are likely to offer many different programs at the undergraduate and graduate level and beyond. As with colleges, degrees awarded by universities typically include bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.

Trade schools are another post-secondary option. These are specialized schools that teach a trade and can include beauty schools, mechanical and technical schools, fire and police academies, hospital-based nursing programs, and culinary schools. These institutions primarily offer certificate and licensure type programs and prepare students for state licensure certifications and exams, although some do offer bachelor's degrees.

Public vs. Private Education

Public post-secondary institutions are those are funded with taxpayer money received by the state. The University of Florida is an example of a public post-secondary university. Tuition at public institutions tends to be significantly less than tuition at private institutions. Tuition is also less for residents of the state in which the institution is located than it is for those attending but living outside of the state.

A private post-secondary institution is one which is privately funded and doesn't receive or rely upon state funds. Private entities can be for-profit, such as the University of Phoenix, or non-profit, such as Barry University. In either case, however, the cost of attending a private post-secondary school tends to be significantly higher than that of attending a state school.

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Additional Activities

Researching Post-Secondary Education

One of the greatest things about graduating from high school today is that there are so many options for ways to continue your education. However, to some students, the abundance of options is overwhelming. This lesson extension activity is designed to motivate students about continuing their education.

Begin by having students write their name and a few careers they are interested in one a piece of paper. Remind students that there is no pressure in this activity, but a fun opportunity to see what possibilities exist for them after high school.

Then, give each student a computer or tablet to do research on (if they are limited, students can work in pairs). Students will spend some time researching options for post-secondary education.

On their paper, students will record the names of schools that they are interested in. For each school, they should write down if it is a community college, trade school or university. They should also record if it is private or public and who it is accredited by. After completing this, they should write down one or two things that either interested them about the school or made them think the school would be a good fit.

As students are working on this, allow for some small talk between students and make yourself available for questions and conversation.

In doing this lesson extension, students will see hopefully how many exciting options exist in post-secondary education and realize that there is something for everyone.

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