What Is Post-secondary Education? US Education Sector

What Is Post-secondary Education? US Education Sector

Post-secondary education is the dream of every learner and parent. The decision to pursue post-secondary education is not light. 

There are many factors to be considered, such as your interests, skills, institution, and length of the program. 

The one sure thing is that post-secondary education invariably leads to more excellent career prospects. 

I guess you are about to graduate or have already graduated high school, and you are thinking of furthering your education. 

If so, I suppose you’ve heard of the term post-secondary education several times. That’s a perfect decision that will guarantee you a better quality of life.  

What is post-secondary education?

It’s the education level that follows after successful completion of high school education. It’s also referred to as third-level education, tertiary education, or higher education. 

Post-secondary education is also decentralized from the national government regulation. Unlike high school and primary education, which are mandatory to anyone under 18 years, it’s entirely optional. The institutions create their programs, examine and rank students.

This level is so diverse, i.e., not limited to college, plus private and public institutions. This gives one option and can find the institution that best fits his/her needs.

Types Of Post-secondary Education

There are a variety of post-secondary educations. When doing your college search, you are expected to select one. This will help you identify different schools offering it. 

You will be able to make a great decision depending on your qualifications, financial capabilities, and location.  

Undergraduate Education

It’s the immediate level after completion of high school education but before advanced studies. Undergraduate education requires specific qualifications. 

However, this is entirely dependent on the different institutions. There is no set standard qualification for post-secondary schools.

Undergraduate has been further divided into two phases. The phases have different levels of content intensity. To complete, one has to meet the diverse requirements for the various subjects.

The two undergraduate degrees are:

Associates degree 

Under the associate’s degree, we have: Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate of Science (AS), and an Associate of Arts (AA)

Bachelor’s degree

A typical bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete. Most students do opt for a bachelor’s degree. It has better job placement opportunities compared to the Associate degree. 

A bachelor’s degree prepares you for advanced education. In addition to the degree, one might be given certificates or diplomas or one of them.

Postgraduate education

To qualify for the postgraduate level, you must have undertaken a bachelor’s degree. In some systems, it’s referred to as advanced education. 

At this level, you might major in research studies or professional studies. Mostly you will be forced to specialize in a unique area. 

For example, if you did an Education degree, you will have to choose one sub-branch-like education management. 

Postgraduate education is also divided into two levels.

Master’s degree

A bachelor’s degree is mandatory for anyone who wants to do a master’s degree. However, some universities will need you to have some level of experience.

The universities, not colleges, solely offer a master’s degree. You can choose to do a master’s degree physically from your local university, abroad, or online with a school like the University of Florida.

This program takes at least two years to complete and is accompanied by intensive research work. The two most common master’s degrees are Masters of Art (MA) and Masters of Science (MS).

Doctoral degree (Ph.D.)

For a doctoral program, you must have completed a master’s degree. The Doctoral degree is currently the highest level of education. 

With a doctoral, you will have an array of career options. It will give you a better earning power and recognition among peers. 

The doctorate can be done physically or online. It’s also characterized by research, more intense than that of masters. 

Distance Education

Distance education allows one to access quality education regardless of location and work circumstances. 

It has revolutionized the education system. You can access short professional courses to graduate degrees. For instance, there are online medical courses that can equip you with life-saving skills like advanced cardiac life support and provide valid certificates to add to your qualifications.

You should do a deep background check on an institution before selection. This will help you know the accredited and non-accredited institutions. You will also get information on the quality of the programs being offered.

Distance education is much cheaper compared to traditional teaching and is as effective. They have excellent delivery methods like student-teacher interaction, timely feedback, etc.

Post-secondary Institutions

There are different levels of post-secondary schools. The most popular choices for learners are colleges and universities. 

However, they are not financially friendly for everyone. There are several options. Here are some of the possible choices that might fit your needs. 

1. Vocational schools

The curriculum of vocational schools is skill-oriented. It primarily focuses on technical skills but also has some academic learning. The students receive training on specific careers for two years or less. 

After completion, the students are awarded a certificate, associate degree, or license. Some of the most common vocational courses are carpentry, plumbing, fashion designing, etc.

2. Community colleges

Most programs in community colleges take two years to complete. Community colleges also offer technical courses and are open for anyone above 18 years. 

However, to be admitted for a major, you much have a high school diploma or GED. They are primarily beneficial to the local community and are funded by the state and the community organization. 

Many prefer community colleges to regular colleges because they are cheaper and convenient. 

However, you can start your education at the community college and later transfer to the four-year colleges. The programs offered do prepare people for specific career opportunities.

3. Colleges

The programs are pretty similar to those of universities. The one significant difference is the size of classes. They have small classes; this makes the quality of education in colleges great. 

They have better access to the faculties. Colleges offer a four-year bachelor’s program two years associate degree. 

The more advanced one can also award a master’s degree. Like universities, they do have a broad curriculum. However, others are specialized and only teach specific courses such as nursing or education.  

4. University

The university is the highest institution. It offers a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate program. 

The colleges are more research-oriented and tend to have the best facilities. Some of the most notable graduate programs are law, medicine, and education. 

Universities do employ the best available lectures and have a great selection of courses. They tend to have bigger classes, which are well equipped.  

The cost of a program is dependent on the university’s reputation. In addition, they are always competitive. To gain selection, you must have performed remarkably.

Things To Consider When Selecting Post-secondary Institutions

1. Location

Location is a critical factor that will affect your budget. When choosing an institution, you should consider how far it is from your home or house to plan the transportation budget. 

If you are a family, love you should choose a college in your locality. You can also check on the available means of transport to the institution. Can your travel by car, train or public vehicles.

2. Cost of the program

A program cost does not only refer to the tuition fees. 

It includes rent, food, and transport. In case you are having financial difficulties. Choose institutions that are located in cheaper cities or regions. 

You should also scout the institution area to know if there are any part-time work opportunities. Choose institutions that offer funding through scholarships and bursaries. 

3. Your interest

Choosing a post-secondary major is always a difficult task. First, you are tasked with identifying the program that you are interested in. 

There are various programs, and I’m sure you will find one that best fits you. After identifying, the next step will be to research the institutions that offer the selected program. 

Check on the different institutions’ admission requirements. Consider the various services added to the program that can help you succeed in your major.

Learning Style

After the years in high school, you are undoubtedly aware of your learning style. We have different learning styles. 

Some prefer the one-on-one guidance from the teacher, while others are self-paced. Therefore, when selecting an institution, you should put the above into consideration. 

If you are after a narrow-focused curriculum that will prepare you for a specific career, the vocational institution will be the perfect fit. 

For those who learn program-specific theoretical learning, then the specialized colleges will do. Lastly, the university will be great for those after broader education to prepare you for various job opportunities.


Completing post-secondary education is quite challenging. It takes extra commitment and dedication.  It broadens your horizons beyond what is learned explicitly in class. 

It equips you with vital life skills like critical thinking, interpersonal skills, and many more. The skills prove helpful at the workplace and when carrying out your daily activities. 

Post-secondary education has numerous personal and social benefits. It allows you to meet a variety of people and build networks. 

Those who have completed post-secondary education do contribute more to the development of their communities. They tend to have high levels of tolerance for diversity, which include people and opinions.

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