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Higher Education: DEFINING EDUCATION 101

Plan for College/Higher Education with the help of these resources

What will You do after High School?...

Postsecondary Education - 

Also known as Tertiary education, postsecondary education can be defined as any education beyond high school. Postsecondary education includes education completed at a university, academy, college, seminary, conservatory, institute of technology, vocational and trade schools as well as other academic degrees or professional certifications.

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Click on the tabs within this box to view a table of contents for each page listed in the DEFINING EDUCATION 101 drop-down menu.


  • What will You do after High School?...
  • Types of Institutions: General
    • College vs. University
    • Public vs. Private
    • Not-For-Profit vs. For-Profit
  • Types of Institutions: Two- & Four-Year Options
    • Two-Year College
      • Community College
      • Junior College
      • ✔️  Vocational, Trade and Technical Schools or Colleges
        • Care Facility Training Programs
        • Apprenticeships
    • Four-Year Colleges & Universities


flag, red icon Click on the links next to book covers and hyperlinks throughout the guide to search the library's catalog and vetted Internet resources.

Note: Titles with either an R or Ref as the prefix in the call number designate Reference materials; they do not circulate. But, there is often another copy (maybe in another format) or a similar title in the circulating collection that you can check out. If that title is already checked out or available in another library 

Request it online or call us at (845) 485-3445 x3702.

  • Types of Course Work
    • Discipline vs. Interdisciplinary
    • Matriculated vs. Non-Matriculated
    • [✔️] Adult Education Courses
  • Major / Minor
    • Joint / Combined Bachelor's and Graduate Degree
  • Awards & Certifications
    • ✔️  Certificate or Diploma
    • Teacher Certification
  • Two-Year Degrees
    • Associate's Degree
      • Transfer Programs
  • Undergraduate / Four-Year Degrees
    • Bachelor's Degree
      • Preprofessional Programs
  • Graduate / Post-Graduate Degrees
    • Master's Degree
    • Terminal Degree
    • Doctorate Degree
    • Professional Degree
  • Business Programs & Library and Data Sciences
  • Medical & Emergency Services
    • Nursing Programs
    • Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)
    • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
    • Fire Science Degree
  • Law Enforcement
  • Psychology & Social Work
  • Distance Learning
    • Distance Learning (Online)
    • Disadvantages to Distance Learning​
    • Useful Tools for Virtual and Distance Learning​
  • Blended Learning

Types of Institutions: General

College vs. University - There are colleges that call themselves universities and universities that refer to themselves as colleges but the difference is determined by the academic programs offered.

  • While colleges emphasize teaching, universities emphasize research.
  • Universities are generally larger institutions that offer medical, law and other doctoral programs as well as bachelor's and master's degrees. 
  • Specialized laboratory equipment, computers, library material, and technical assistance for faculty research often result in higher tuition at Universities than colleges, even to their undergraduate students.

Public vs. Private -

Public - At least part of the institution's operating budget is received from state tax revenues, the institution operates with a mandate and a mission from the state where it is located, and is accountable to the elected officials of that state.

Examples of New York school systems that offer In-state (vs. Out-of-state) tuition for students who have established residency include the SUNY and CUNY systems.

SUNY - The State University of New York (SUNY) is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States. The system includes 64 institutions, including research universities, academic medical centers, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, colleges of technology and an online learning network. 

CUNY - The City University of New York (CUNY) includes 11 senior colleges, 7 community colleges, The Macaulay Honors College and 5 graduate and professional schools located throughout the city’s five boroughs. Each of the senior colleges offers a distinctive history as well as a rigorous baccalaureate degree program and enriching campus experience.

Private - Most private institutions are independent, not-for-profit institutions. They operate with revenues from tuition, income from endowments, private gifts and bequests, and federal, private, or corporate foundation grants. Private institutions are primarily accountable to a board of trustees, which is usually made up of local or national business and community leaders and esteemed alumni.

Proprietary - For-profit higher education in the United States (known as for-profit college or proprietary education in some instances) refers to higher education educational institutions operated by private, profit-seeking businesses.

Independent - Accredited by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and often have stricter rules for governance than some private schools (article: What's the Difference Between a Private School and an Independent School?).

Not-For-Profit vs. For-Profit -

Not-For-Profit / Non-Profit  - Non-profit educational institutions are the traditional schools you likely picture when you think of college (ie: liberal arts colleges, community colleges, state universities, etc.). These schools receive funding from a variety of sources such as the government, tuition fees and donations.

For-Profit - Also known as proprietary education, refers to higher education educational institutions operated by private, profit-seeking businesses. Like a business, there are owners and shareholders (ie: DeVry Education, Trump University, etc.). Operating revenues include tuition dollars but also might include investor financing. Some of these colleges are owned and operated by publicly traded corporations. 

Types of Institutions: Two- & Four-Year Options

Two-Year College - Most offer vocational programs as well as the first two years of a four-year (academic or transfer) program.

Community College - A public institution / college on a not-for-profit basis offering two-year programs leading to an associate degree.

Junior College - A private institution / college on a not-for-profit basis offering two-year programs following high school that lead to an associate degree.

✔️ Vocational, Trade and Technical Schools or Colleges - Also known as Private career schools or Proprietary schools that are usually private, for-profit institutions that may be accredited, licensed or registered by state boards of education. Typically, programs of study emphasize training for a specific occupation (ie: automobile mechanics, dental assistance, food service preparation, hairstylists and cosmetologists, licensed practical nurses, heating and air-conditioning technicians, secretaries,...).

The course work is similar to adult education courses or courses offered at community colleges and can usually be completed in a year or two. Students who successfully complete course work usually receive certificates but some accredited schools award associate's degrees. Tuition is similar or more expensive than a community college; ask if financial aid loans are available. Programs are designed to prepare students for immediate employment. Accredited schools may offer job placement to help their graduates get started or advance on their career paths but, like an academic school offering two- or four-year degrees, they cannot guarantee that their students will be hired in positions suitable for their training after graduation.

Care Facility Training Programs - Hospitals and other care facilities, such as nursing homes, may offer opportunities for training. Training programs may combine academic course work and on-the-job training or it may be on-the-job training only. Programs can usually be completed in six months to two years.

Apprenticeships - Also referred to as "blue collar" or "skilled trades." Apprenticeships teach artisan occupations that are sometimes referred to as crafts (ie: floristry, interior design, accounting, I.T. security, warehouse management, air cabin crew, musical instrument maker, glassblower,...) as well as health care workers (ie: pharmacist assistant) and farm and animal workers (ie: wildlife management, zoo and dog warden, veterinary nursing). 

   Levels of Apprenticeships (are based on experience):

  1. Apprentice - Beginner who is learning the craft.
  2. Journeyworker - Skilled worker who has already completed an apprenticeship.
  3. Master Craftsworker - High-skilled worker who is an expert in the craft.

DutchessBOCES - Career & Technical Institute - Programs offer students the opportunity to gain basic entry level career skills as well as the skills necessary to enter a college or technical school.


Click on the attached Word document "Vocational or Trade School Programs" or the links below to view lists of apprenticeships and current occupations that require them.

Apprenticeships - View a list of resources compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor.

A Path to a Skilled Career - Explore Trades, Sponsors & Programs; View Recruitments; Learn about becoming an Apprentice and more. Resources compiled by the New York State Department of Labor.

ApprenticeshipUSA - A one-stop source to connect career seekers, employers, and education partners with apprenticeship resources. Discover apprenticeships across industries, how programs are started by employers, and how to become an apprentice.


Four-Year Colleges & Universities vary from state to state. All accredited colleges and universities (public and private, for-profit or not-) are entitled to receive public funds from the federal government in the form of direct grants and loans for eligible students, support for student work-study programs, and competitive grants to support research or campus programs. In exchange for this support, these institutions undergo a peer-reviewed accreditation process by a regional accreditor authorized by the federal government's Department of Education. If an institution is accredited it's students are eligible for all available federal financial aid.

In addition to federal financial aid Accreditation status provides you with assurance that the school operates in a fiscally responsible manner and that the academic programs offered have been deemed sound by an outside group of educators from peer institutions. - Peterson's Four-Year Colleges (2017).

Whether an institution is public or private, you will want to ask questions about campus climate (social) and academic programs in order to help determine if a school is right for you.