What is Postsecondary Education?
Postsecondary Education, also known as tertiary education, is the education level that follows the successful completion of secondary education, often referred to as high school. Postsecondary education includes universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Postsecondary education usually culminates with a diploma, certification or academic degree.
Postsecondary education is decentralized from regulation by the federal government and is essentially independent from it. Postsecondary education is often diverse because there are private and public institutions. Some institutions are small and affiliated with religious organizations, while others could be secular, rural, urban, or suburban.
There are many postsecondary options for people who have learning disabilities. Whether it’s a four-year college, a two-year college, a technical program, adult basic education, continuing education, or a life skills program, the key to choosing the right school for you starts with these steps:
- Contact your selected school’s Office of Disability Support Services to set up a meeting.
- Take your current learning disability documentation with you for that meeting.
- Know what accommodations you will need to ask for in a college or university setting.
- Determine if the school will provide your requested accommodations.
- Follow with a tour of the campus and interviews with faculty and staff.
Types of Postsecondary Options
Four-year Colleges and Universities
Students attend four-year colleges and universities to earn bachelor’s degrees by successfully completing the degree program. There are hundreds of these institutions to choose from, and they vary by size, admission criteria, academic standards, and what types of courses they offer.
Many four-year colleges and universities also have graduate and professional schools. Students interested in studying for a profession that requires more than a bachelor’s degree will attend a graduate or professional school in order to earn a master’s, specialist’s, and/or doctoral degree(s).
Students attend two-year colleges to earn an Associate of Arts (AA) degree or an Applied Science (AAS) degree. Students who earn an AA degree may later transfer credits to a four-year college or university. Those who have earned an AAS degree (which is occupation-specific, such as automotive technician) may be able to transfer some credits earned to a four-year institution.
There are two different types of two-year colleges public community colleges and private junior colleges. Public community colleges have open-admissions policies. These institutions are not typically residential. Private junior colleges often require entrance examinations or some level of equivalent work experience and/or extracurricular activities. Most are small residential schools; students live on campus or in the surrounding community.
Vocational-Technical Schools and Programs
Vocational-Technical Schools and programs offer education and training that is specifically targeted to specialized areas within the employment domain. Career choices may require that students first obtain the specialized training that these programs offer before a reasonable job search can occur.
Students can access programs focusing on different occupational areas in both public and private vocational-technical schools. Examples include computer technician, nurse’s aide, geriatric medical assistant, broadcast technician, veterinarian assistant, plumbing, air conditioning, truck driving, barbering, or cosmetology.
Adult Education and Continuing Education Programs
A wide range of course offerings can be found in adult education and continuing education programs. In these programs, students can study to take the GED® Test, improve basic academic skill, or take a course for self-enrichment.
The Adult Basic Education (ABE) program provides free instruction in reading, writing, and thinking skills to those who do not yet have high school diplomas or have deficits in basic skills.
Adult education also includes a national system of literacy groups. Trained volunteers individually tutor students of varying levels of reading literacy.
Continuing education programs are most often housed at colleges and universities. The only requirement may be to pay the course fee. Students may take continuing education courses to see what a similar college academic course will be like, to retain certification in specific fields of study/employment, or for self-enrichment.
Life Skills Programs
Some students may not have the academic and/or social skills to attend four-year colleges or universities, two-year colleges, vocational-technical programs, or adult education programs. Such students may have the need and desire to increase basic academic skills and knowledge, but may have an equal need to learn increased social and life management skills, while also receiving vocational training. Several life skills programs exist throughout the country, offering training for independence.