Lesson 2: Postsecondary Education Options

Key Considerations

To help you decide if attending college is for you, it is important to fully understand all of the postsecondary education options available to you after high school and the differences in each. Familiarizing yourself with your options, weighing the pros and cons, and determining if you are a candidate for each option based on the entry requirements, costs, and your abilities are essential parts of the decision-making process.


Review the postsecondary education options available to you by reading the key points associated with each option and doing further independent research. Make a list of pros and cons for each to help you determine which option you should consider as a student who is blind or low vision.

  1. State college or university
  2. Community college (also referred to as junior college or two-year college)
  3. Career school (also referred to as technical, trade, or vocational school)

You have the option of attending a public school or a private school. A public school is operated or funded by the state and local government. A private school is not affiliated with a government organization and might be run by private foundations or religious denominations. Private schools receive less or no funding from the government, and as a result, are often more expensive to attend than a public school in your state. However, don’t base your calculations on the tuition alone. Some private schools have very generous financial aid packages that bring the total cost way down.

Public colleges and universities are less expensive to attend for residents of the state they are located in. Keep this in mind as you explore the differences between a state college or university, a community college, and a career school.

State Colleges and Universities

A state college or university is a public college where students can earn a four-year degree or what is otherwise known as a bachelor’s degree. Students can also earn a master’s degree and a doctoral degree.

Key Points

  • The admissions requirements are competitive and a high grade point average from high school as well as good scores on college entrance exams, such as the SAT or ACT, are required.
  • State colleges and universities have student populations that are large and diverse.
  • There are many ways to get involved through student organizations and extracurricular activities.
  • Colleges and universities offer a wide variety of programs.
  • State colleges and universities have an abundance of resources from technology to tutoring.
  • If you are ready to live on your own, on-campus and off-campus housing is available. Some schools require freshmen to live on-campus.
  • The class sizes at state colleges and universities are typically large, especially for required courses.
  • The cost associated with attending a state college or university is often expensive.

Community College

A community college is another option for you to consider as a student with vision loss. Students who have earned a high school diploma or GED (General Education Diploma) can apply to a community college. After earning an associate’s degree, students who are in good academic standing can transfer to a four-year state college or university to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Students can also transfer after attending a community college for one year, but it may be more difficult to be accepted.

Key Points

  • Requirements for admissions are less stringent than a four-year state college or university. SAT and ACT scores are encouraged but not required.
  • Community college is typically less expensive than attending a private state college or university, which could save you money over two years or however long it takes you to obtain your associate’s degree.
  • After attending for two years, you can use your associate’s degree to enter the workforce.
  • Most areas have a community college within commuting distance, so you do not have to spend money on room and board.
  • If you need to work while you are in college, a community college may offer the flexibility you need through the availability of online courses and not having a full-time enrollment requirement.
  • Smaller class sizes can give you more opportunities to interact with your professors and other students. It can be easier to meet new people and establish new friendships on a smaller campus.

Career School

An option that is often overlooked is career school, also known as vocational school, trade school, or technical school. Examples of trades learned at a career school are welder, cosmetologist, electrician, mechanic, dental hygienist, and massage therapist.

Key Points

  • Most career schools only require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED to attend.
  • Students who attend career school take specific classes and receive hands-on technical knowledge and practical experience that can translate directly to a job.
  • Students develop a particular skill set and knowledge base with hands-on training.
  • Students can earn a certificate, a diploma, prepare for a licensing exam, or study to begin work in a skilled trade.
  • Typical time to graduate or complete a program is one to two years.
  • If you are excited about starting work sooner, it may be the choice for you.
  • The cost to attend career school can be significantly less than attending college. However, for-profit proprietary career schools can cost much more than university training.
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