Two-Year Schools: Community Colleges, Junior Colleges, Technical/Professional Colleges
The sole difference between community colleges and junior colleges is that community schools are supported by state and local funding and mainly serve area residents, while junior colleges are funded privately and therefore may attract students from anywhere in the country. Students can earn several degrees: associate of arts (A.A.), associate of science (A.S.) and associate of applied science (A.A.S.).
Technical schools offer programs geared toward preparing students for specific professions, including accounting, air-conditioning and refrigeration, automotive and diesel mechanics, commercial art and photography, drafting and design, electronics, health care, horticulture, office administration, retail merchandising and welding. Community and junior colleges provide technical training in addition to more general studies. Depending on the vocational program, students can earn an associate degree or a certificate. A two-year school may be an end unto itself. Or a graduate may transfer her credits to a fouryear institution and resume studying for her bachelor degree there. Be aware, though, that some two-year-school credits may not be transferable. Check with the four-year college about which courses it will accept.
Four-Year Schools: Colleges and Universities
These institutions confer bachelor of arts (B.A.) and bachelor of science (B.S.) degrees in many fields, including biology, chemistry, economics, English, foreign languages, history, literature, political science and zoology, to name several. Universities differ from colleges in that they usually are larger and encompass one or more colleges of the arts and/or sciences.
The size of the school is often reflected in larger classes, which may be taught by grad students instead of professors. What’s more, graduates can continue their studies and earn advanced degrees in their chosen field: a master’s degree (upon completing one to two years of graduate work), a doctoral degree (two to three years), or a professional degree (one, three, six years, maybe more, depending on the profession and whether the student pursues the degree part time or full time). Some colleges offer graduate programs.