Traditional & Alternative School Selection Options

Students have a wide variety of education options, including universities, local community colleges, vocational schools, and online education programs.

Private Four-Year Colleges and Universities

Costs among the hundreds of private colleges and universities differ significantly. Sometimes size matters, as does reputation and prestige. Generosity fluctuates as well. Smaller colleges tend to emphasize diversity and spend more time acquainting themselves with the personalities of prospective students. Larger universities tend to reach high and low—high academically and low for motivated but financially needy students. According to College Board the average tuition for a private four-year college is a little over $22,000, but may be as high as $40,000 and upwards for exclusive schools.

The current average with an annual 5% inflation increase applied spells exponential tuition hikes over the next decade and a half.

Public/State Universities

Factors that drive costs at state and public universities are unique to each state government. “Government” is the operative term. State education cuts directly influence tuition costs. But what goes up in one state may go down in another. Typically costs to attend a public university lay somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000. Average current cost for a public university is close enough to $6,000.

Community Colleges

Community colleges are in a renaissance phase, driven primarily by decisive cost demands; but other factors beg mention for their ability to shape the future of higher education. Whoever doubted community colleges could lead a new wave had little foresight to consider such student populations as international, academically challenged, regionally isolated, and socially and temporally constrained. Does this inspire a less than desirable remedial image?

My community college experience was instrumental in prepping me for a subsequent four-year college. Like many high school students I was unprepared for life away on a college campus. Instead of wasting money I utilized the specialties for which community colleges are best known and worked on my academic skills and career interests while I pursued a program that would effectively carry me to a four-year college right on schedule.

Community college costs are among the more affordable of the crew. Students typically find tuition that averages between $2,000 and $3,000. Costs increase at a lower rate than those among four-year private or public colleges and universities.

Technical and Vocational Schools

Technical colleges and universities span a huge plain of education. Large and reputable technical schools such as MIT, contrast to small regional culinary and cosmetology schools. Tuition costs diverge along the same lines, MIT checking in at a bit over $33,000, and Oregon Culinary Institute at $16,000+ for a diploma program. Factors that also serve to differentiate the different schools include types of degrees conferred. Clearly not all technical schools keep it to diploma or two-year degrees. Some continuing education programs can run as little as six weeks.

Online Universities and Distance Programs

Online universities have come into their own over the last few years and a number of them are quite reputable. Perhaps the biggest challenge for is the lack of traditional student loans applicable for such programs. The answer may be online courses offered through traditional universities that tap a remote clientele. Tuition is in keeping with campus-based courses of equal value sans the expense of room and board. Look for continued interest to keep options in this area fresh.

Personal Interest Programs

Personal interest programs tend to be shorter in lenght and vary widely in pricing, based largely on percieved end value and general industry trends. Some courses are freely available, while others may cost thousands of dollars.