Making plans following high school often causes anxiety for families and students alike. Everyone tosses around so many terms, which causes even more stress. Arizona GEAR UP wants to help simplify the jargon, so we boiled down some of the most common terms below.
Postsecondary Education: think of it as any education or training after high school. Several options include four-year universities, community colleges, certificate programs, trade schools, or the military.
But now we’ve thrown more terms at you. No worries, we’ll provide a breakdown.
- Universities award bachelor’s degrees to students after four years of study involving specific classes related to a student’s primary field of interest (also called a major). Many GEAR UP students receive free money through financial aid and scholarships, which makes this option very affordable. Teachers, architects, engineers, nurses, computer programmers, journalists, and many other careers fall in this category. Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona are examples of four-year universities.
- Community colleges offer several options. Students can earn two-year associate’s degrees for careers such as paralegal, occupational therapy assistant, web developer, and air traffic controller. Also, students who ultimately want to attend a four-year university can take their prerequisite classes (entry-level courses) at a community college at a much lower cost and then transfer to a university for the remaining two years. Community colleges also offer certificate programs for careers such as dental assistants, cosmetologists, massage therapists, and HVAC technicians. Programs vary in length from a few months to a year.
- Trade schools include certificate programs in trades such as electricians, plumbers, welders, and carpenters. Programs take anywhere from a few months to a few years.
- Military service offers a couple of different options. Students can enlist for a multi-year commitment in their preferred branch of the military right after high school, and they may earn a trade certificate. If students wish to become an officer and earn a bachelor’s degree, ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) may fit their needs.
We know that 70 percent of all jobs require some sort of postsecondary education, and people who earn a bachelor’s degree earn more than twice as much as those with less than a high school diploma, so planning now will yield big results long term. Also, people with bachelor’s degrees are less likely to experience unemployment compared to those without degrees.
We’ve covered a lot of information, so which is the best path?
No one correct path exists. We suggest the following conversation starters with your child to help them find the path right for them.
- Dream: How do you envision your ideal life?
- Explore: What careers do you imagine fit your unique personality?
- Plan: What is the path needed for your ideal career?
- Assess: What classes do you need to take in high school to prepare for your plan?
Still have questions? Your GEAR UP coach at your child’s school is a great resource. Give them a call—they’re here to help.