Post Secondary Education: Everything You need to know


Are you going to graduate from high school or have you previously finished but want to improve your education for better job opportunities? If so, you’ve probably heard the term “post secondary education” from time to time.

Post-secondary education is what happens after you graduate from high school. While most individuals consider it as a stepping stone to greater job chances in the future, this isn’t always the case. Also, contrary to common assumption, post-secondary education isn’t confined to college; therefore, if money is a barrier to pursuing post-secondary education, you might want to seek alternatives to college.

What Exactly Is Post secondary Education?

Post-secondary education is sometimes referred to as “higher education,” “third-level education,” or “tertiary education,” all of which generally translate to the same thing. Its variants that do not lead to degrees, such as certificate programs and community college, are frequently referred to as “continuing education.” These are the educational programs available in your nation after you graduate from high school, acquire your GED, or something similar.

Unlike elementary and secondary school, which are required for students under the age of 18, post-secondary education is entirely voluntary. It is the final step of formal education that leads to an academic degree. Levels 6–8 of the International Standard Classification of Education define postsecondary education. Undergraduate and postgraduate studies are also part of postsecondary education.

Over 21 million high school students in the United States pursue post-secondary education after graduating from high school. This is because many individuals consider a higher education degree as a passport to economic stability, since it can offer up additional work prospects in the market. College is a sort of post-secondary education, although it is not the sole type of higher education. And just because someone has completed their post-secondary education does not guarantee that they will have work opportunities available to them. It also does not imply that they will inevitably earn more than someone who does not pursue post-secondary education.

This page defines post-secondary education, what it entails, and the many alternatives accessible to you after graduating from high school (or high school equivalent). Then we discuss if pursuing a post-secondary degree is truly necessary for the professional path you wish to pursue.

Secondary vs. Post-Secondary Education

Secondary education is more generally referred to as high school, but it may also apply to those who have completed their GED (General Education Development) examinations or any similar throughout the world. Students are expected to attend secondary school, as opposed to post-secondary education (or at least they are, until they turn 18 and can opt to drop out).

A significant proportion of people opt to drop out (around 527,000 people from October 2017 to October 2018). While they can find job (about 47.2 percent of them), they cannot enter post-secondary education unless they complete high school or get a secondary education diploma.

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Institutions of Higher Learning

Contrary to common misconception, “post-secondary education” and other related words do not refer solely to obtaining a bachelor’s degree in high school. Colleges and colleges are the most popular option, but they may not be the most financially feasible option for everyone, especially when you consider that many college graduates in the United States are still struggling to pay off student debt obligations years after graduating.

If you’re interested in continuing your education after high school but want to examine alternative opportunities, here are some possibilities.

Vocational Education

Vocational schools, often known as trade or technical schools, educate students on the technical aspects of specialized trades or employment skills. In contrast to universities, where students receive academic training for employment in specialized professional areas, vocational school students receive job-specific instruction where physical abilities are more important than intellectual learning.

These are accessible in practically every nation, albeit under different names. For those who desire to gain skills for improved work chances, several nations may have both private and public vocational schools that are either entirely or partially sponsored by the government.

Some vocational courses include:

  1. Nursing health care (for people who want to work as caregivers)
  2. Computer network administration
  3. Application for word processing (secretarial positions)
  4. Management of food and beverages
  5. Creating fashion
  6. Electrician
  7. Plumber
  8. Carpentry
  9. Pilot for hire
  10. Hotel and catering management
  11. Daycare administration
  12. Hairstyling, cosmetics, and beauty
  13. Legal research
  14. Massage treatment
  15. Technician at a pharmacy
  16. Travel consultant

Take notice that there are many more vocational courses available than those listed, although not all vocational schools provide all sorts of courses. Some vocational schools may also specialize in particular sectors, so do your homework on vocational schools in your region.

Upon completion of any of these courses, you will receive a certificate indicating that you have completed and trained for the skill of your choice. This gives you a competitive advantage in the job market over other high school graduates who lack the same training for the skillset you possess.

It is also possible to have multiple certificates for different courses if you believe it will give you a competitive advantage, such as becoming certified for Electrician, Plumber, and Carpentry courses if you plan to work in the construction industry. This also applies to recent college graduates who believe they can gain an advantage by having a college degree as well as a vocational school certificate on their resume.

Non-Degree Students

Non-degree students are classified in two ways. The first is a student who attends a college or university and takes undergraduate, master’s, or PhD coursework but does not intend to graduate. These are persons who desire to learn for certain classes and pursue academic interests but do not see the necessity to get a full degree. These can be simple reasons such as wanting to master a certain area or adding to their CV that they took lessons for a specific subject.

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Non-degree students can also enroll in online or classroom classes on specialized areas to improve their resumes or enhance their lives. You will not receive a diploma, but you will receive a certificate of completion. It’s comparable to what you’d get at a technical school, but more intellectual than technical.

Community Colleges 

Community colleges are sometimes referred to as “junior colleges” or “two-year institutions.” Instead of a Bachelor’s degree after four years, community college students obtain an associate degree after only two years. Some community colleges, although not all, provide non-degree credentials and vocational courses. Community colleges provide programs for the community in addition to academic sessions.

Community colleges take half the time to complete a diploma since they only offer the general education requirements that all college students must complete. In traditional schools and universities, you study for four years: the first two years are dedicated to general education requirements, while the next two are dedicated to specialized coursework based on your major.

Community college can help you get a job, but it can also help you get into university. With the coursework you took at community college, you may transfer to a university and major for two years to earn a bachelor’s degree. If you believe you don’t need one and want to enter the workforce following community college, you’ll be awarded an associate’s degree.

Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities, the most common choice for post-secondary education, not only give bachelor’s degrees for high school students, but also post-graduate degrees for college students. Graduate school, law school, medical school, dentistry school, and business school are some examples of post-graduate degrees that fall under this category.

Some people attend post-secondary education institutions such as graduate school and business schools to obtain a master’s degree, which will offer them a competitive advantage in the labor market for higher-level employment. Other schools, such as law school and medical school, require you to attend and complete your study if you wish to obtain a certain career role. For example, depending on how competitive a paralegal position at a law firm is, paralegals may require certification or even a bachelor’s degree, but if you want to become a lawyer, you must complete law school and pass the bar test in your jurisdiction.

It is the most costly kind of postsecondary education, but there are various ways to get in. There are a number of scholarship and grant programs that can give you with partial to full scholarships (some even pay stipends or allowances for expenditures such as food, books, and other essentials) without putting you in debt. However, many scholarship programs are exceedingly competitive and are typically offered to students who have exceptional academic or athletic promise or who require the most financial assistance.

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Do I Need Post-Secondary Education for Work?

Obtaining post-secondary education is not required to secure a job in the future, nor is there any guarantee that obtaining more education will land you a job immediately after completing your school. If you believe that none of the possibilities listed above will lead you to the profession you desire or envision yourself doing in the future, you are not required to pursue any of them. Unlike elementary and secondary school, post-secondary education is not required; whether you attend school after high school or after the age of 18 is entirely up to you.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 70% of high school graduates aged 16 to 24 enrolled in colleges or universities in 2018. And over 72% of those aged 20 to 29 with a college diploma were employed. However, 74% of high school graduates were in the labor force (working or actively searching for employment), whereas 42% of high school dropouts were.

This means that regardless of your educational level, there will be a position in the labor market that matches it. The employment market, though, may be competitive depending on what it is.

Take note of the wage disparity as well. One of the likely reasons why more than half of high school graduates choose post-secondary education is that the average yearly pay of a college graduate is more than half that of a high school graduate – and the gap between the two educational attainments is widening.

Some people, on the other hand, work because it’s something they like to do or because they’re happy with their job and the compensation they make. There’s nothing wrong with it, especially if it means they’ll be able to pursue a profession or employment that allows them to accomplish what they want.

It is ultimately up to you whether or not to seek postsecondary education. If you choose a job that does not necessarily fit within the accessible institutions, or if you believe that continuing education will do nothing to enhance your career, it is OK to forgo this entirely and follow your desired career or track. However, if you want to continue your education but cannot afford four years of college, you should be aware that there are alternative possibilities accessible to you.

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