Dive into the topic of higher education, also known as post-secondary education or tertiary education. Referring to education that occurs after high school, this category includes community colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, and vocational schools. While some institutions provide general liberal arts education, other schools are more specialized in the degree programs they offer. Students can attain a variety of college degrees and certificates. The amount of time needed to obtain a degree depends on the type of degree being sought as well as the student’s learning pace. Commonly, degrees are obtained through a two-year or four-year college program. Many colleges and universities offer online learning in addition to traditional classroom education.
Institutions are also categorized according to whether they are for-profit or nonprofit. Unlike for-profit schools, nonprofit schools are not owned by an individual or group of shareholders, and any profits must be reinvested back into or held by the school. In the twenty-first century, some have accused for-profit schools of sacrificing their students’ best interests in order to increase profits.
While post-secondary education is valued for its demonstrated increase in earning potential and employment options, some point to the increasing cost of tuition as a serious hindrance to students from low-income and middle-class families. An institution’s ability to provide scholarships and financial aid is critical to reducing student-loan debt and making college more affordable. Most institutions offer online classes—some known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free and open to all—to promote distance learning for students not on campus.