- Types of Educational Institutions
- The words school, college, and university are often used interchangeably causing great confusion in the search for the right educational institution. Below are some broad categories into which educational institutions in North America could be divided:
State universities are founded and subsidized by state governments to provide low-cost education to residents of that state. These may also be called public universities to distinguish them from private institutions. Some include the words "state university" in their title. State universities tend to be very large, with enrollments of 20,000 or more students, and generally admit a wider range of students than private universities. State university tuition costs are generally lower than those of private universities. Also, in-state residents (those who live and pay taxes in that particular state) pay much lower tuition than out-of-state residents. International students, as well as those from other states, are considered out-of-state residents and therefore normally do not benefit from reduced tuition at state institutions. In addition, international students may have to fulfill higher admission requirements than in-state residents. Instances of state universities are California, Michigan, or Texas.
Private institutions are funded by a combination of endowments, tuition fees, research grants, and gifts from their alumni. Tuition fees tend to be higher at private universities than at state universities, but there is no distinction made between state and non-state residents. In general, private universities have enrollments of fewer than 20,000 students, and private colleges may have 2,000 or fewer students on their campuses.
Community colleges provide two-year associate degree programs, usually called the Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees. They also provide excellent technical and vocational programs. As the name suggests, community colleges are community-based institutions with close links to secondary schools, community groups, and employers, and many students live close to campus with their families. Community colleges can be public or private institutions and are sometimes called junior colleges or two-year colleges. A growing number of international students are choosing to study at community colleges. Tuition costs are often lower at these institutions.
Technical and Vocational Colleges
These institutions specialize in preparing students for entry into the workplace. They offer certificate and other short-term programs that train students in the theory behind a specific vocation or technology, as well as in how to work with the technology. Programs usually last two years or less. There are several thousand technical and vocational colleges across the United States and Canada.
Liberal Arts Colleges
The term ?Liberal Arts College? implies three distinct characteristics in the institution. First, it would be smaller in size than universities, with smaller class sizes to provide an environment where more individual attention can be given to each student. Second, it is usually residential, exposing its students to a wide variety of cultural, political, and intellectual events on campus. And finally, in contrast to professional, vocational or technical colleges, a liberal arts college typically encourages an exploration of the liberal arts or general knowledge in the first two-years before deciding a major. At their core, liberal arts colleges seek to develop small and informal learning environments which enable extensive interaction between faculty and students, and among students themselves.
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