Post-secondary Schools & Colleges 101: Program Areas

Program Areas are simply a way to organize the vast number of courses, classes, degrees, certificates, diplomas, etc offered at different schools.  Sometimes it can be confusing when each school has a different name for a course or degree that essentially teaches the same material.  By grouping similar programs together in one area, you can find what is interesting and relevant to your school search.   Business, Management, and Marketing & Health Care and Medicalare two examples of program areas that encompass a growing range of programs offered at many schools and colleges. 

Below is a list of the Program Areas that you will find at

  • Business, Management, and Marketing

  • Computer and Information Technology (IT)

  • Health Care and Medical

  • Culinary and Personal Services

  • Mechanics, Precision, and Construction

  • Design, Communication, and Arts

  • Military Training and Technologies

  • Legal Studies and Reporting

  • Public Service and Administration

  • Transportation and Commercial Vehicle

  • Security and Law Enforcement

  • General Education and High School (GED)

  • Agriculture

Find out more at the Program Areas page on

Post-secondary Schools & Colleges 101: Private vs Public

One simple way to identify schools is: public vs. private.  Now, how exactly does that affect you, the student?  Well, behind the scenes certain things will be run differently.  For example, public schools obviously get public funding from local, state, and/or federal governments.  This funding has strings attached – meaning the school needs to follow rules laid out by the governments giving the money.  Private schools are often funded independently or privately (sometimes they do take public funding).  This gives them more freedom to function how they see best. 

Often times private and public schools end up with the same results.  Both types of schools strive to offer the best mix of courses, programs, resources and teachers that cater to their student audience.  Other times private schools have the advantage if they are able to offer more up-to-date programs that are valuable to students.  Sometimes the government simply slows things down for how quickly public schools can update their programs.  Sometime public schools have the advantage when private schools are also for-profit.  In this case a private school must balance staying profitable AND keeping their customers (ie students) happy.   This can definitely be challenging, however there are plenty of great private schools out there so avoiding private schools is not the answer.  As always you need to do your homework on the specific schools you are interested in.  Ask those important questions that will help you make the right decision.

Ways to get an Inside Look at a potential college or school

  • Shadow a student or spend a day attending real classes – get a sense for the culture and atmosphere
  • Find Someone on a social network…pick one.  And introduce yourself as a prospective student.  See what they have to say about their school, their experience.
  • Meet with a professor or academic adviser one-on-one.  Ask as many questions as you can come up with and make some of them on the tough side.

Good Questions to ask current students:

What do you like the most about YourSchool?  What do you like least?
Why did you choose YourSchool?
What makes YourSchool stand out?
What surprised you when you started taking class at YourSchool?
How is YourSchool going to help you reach your professional goals?

Ten factors to consider when choosing a school or college

  • Tuition & Additional Costs – Can you afford the costs?  Have a plan.
  • Location – Does the school have a nearby campus, online courses, both?
  • Program Selection – Does the School offer a broad array of courses or just a few very specialized courses (what is right for you?)
  • Student to Faculty Ratio – How big is the average class size?  Do you interact with teaching staff?
  • Career Advisers or Mentors – People who care about helping you…
  • Interested, motivated students – Can you learn and share with your fellow students?
  • Alumni Network – Can you easily contact alumni?  Great resource for helping you find that next job.
  • Challenging Materials – Will the programs and courses help you learn, grow, etc?
  • Schedule Flexibility – Are there online courses? Weekend Courses? Night Classes?
  • Proof Positive – Will this school get you where you want to go? That answer is up to you.

What do you think?

What’s in an Education? (part 1)

Why do we go to school?  Often this simple question is outright ignored or casually dismissed.  Youranswer should be absolutely unique.  We all have a tendency to group and bucket things, but for once you really should have an answer that is like no other.  We are not all made to get perfect SAT scores.  We are not all amazing athletes.  And most importantly we are definitely not passionate about the same things.  

Progressing through school we eventually come to a major crossroads – more like a multi-highway interchange.  Tons of people are driving along, changing lanes, speeding by, entering the highway, and exiting the highway.  It can be a bit chaotic and stressful, but once we get accustomed to the environment we can focus on making a choice.  The bottom line: everything is fluid – think of that highway.  Even if we make a poor choice, we can get back on the road and try something else.  A good education gives us options and usually more choices. 

Pre-School, Grade School, Middle School, and even High School are places where we learn the basics – nothing too specialized.  Now, if we start talking about college and post-secondary schools – the choice is sometimes overwhelming.  There are tons of careers, professions, skills, and experiences to learn about.  How do we pick the right one?  Since we all have different interests and goals (personal or professional) we really need to think through a few questions:

  • What are you good at? 
  • What are you passionate about? 
  • What Careers are a good fit for you?
  • What training do you need ?
  • Which schools offer what you need to get there?

Up Next:  Part 2 – What types of Schools & Colleges are out there?

Finding the Right School

What do people look for in a good school? That’s the goal at – to answer that question.  By creating a complete database of schools that are all shapes and sizes, we can provide an easy to understand snapshot of all your options.  With the additional input from current students and alumni – this complete school overview will help people trying to find the school that is right for them.