Types of colleges
All colleges are not the same
As you already know, there are several different types of colleges. As you think about which one is right for you, the first step is to decide what type appeals to you the most. Here are some of the basic types of colleges in the United States.
Two year/four year
Most two-year colleges are called community colleges, although the name may be ďXYZ Community College,Ē ďXYZ Junior CollegeĒ or just ďXYZ College.Ē These colleges offer programs that can be completed in one or two years, usually falling into two categories:
- ďTransferĒ programs, or basic freshman- and sophomore-level courses, with credits you can transfer to a four-year college toward an eventual bachelorís degree. In addition, community college students who complete about 60 hours and meet certain requirements may receive an associate in arts degree from the community college.
- ďTerminalĒ programs in technical fields, such as nursing, cosmetology or airframe mechanics, that culminate in a certificate (one-year programs) or an associate in applied sciences degree (two-year programs). Students who complete these programs move directly into the job market, although some fields first require licensing examinations.
Community colleges often have convenient locations, lower costs and open admission. Most community colleges are geared toward students commuting from home and do not have on-campus housing. Many students benefit from a community collegeís nurturing environment, whether they are recent high school graduates or older students returning to college.
Four-year colleges grant bachelorís degrees (also known as undergraduate or baccalaureate degrees) and offer freshman, sophomore, junior and senior courses. Many also offer graduate-level courses leading to masterís and doctoral degrees. Four-year institutions are often divided into colleges and schools (for example, College of Business, College of Visual Arts and Design) and are called universities.
Four-year colleges or universities often have a distinguished faculty, extensive computer and library resources, an array of academic choices, research opportunities and considerable prestige. Most four-year colleges or universities have on-campus housing (also known as residence halls or dormitories), although most also allow students to commute. In general, these institutions offer a larger number of campus activities and student organizations and greater involvement in intercollegiate athletics than two-year colleges.
UNT is a student-focused public research university and the flagship of the UNT System. UNT offers a broad range of bachelorís, masterís and doctoral degree programs in its 12 colleges and schools, which include the Honors College for high-achieving students.
Colleges are also different in the way they are funded. Many of the nationís four-year colleges are public.
Public colleges receive a significant amount of funding from taxes, keeping tuition low. Because they are operated partially with state or local funds, public institutions are closely supervised by one or more governing boards.
In Texas, locally elected boards set tuition and fee costs for public community colleges. Public universities set their own tuition rates, and fees vary greatly from institution to institution. Higher tuition is charged to out-of-state residents since they do not contribute to the tax pool. Although tuition and other costs at state colleges are considered low, financial aid and scholarships are available for qualified applicants.
Private colleges are not publicly funded, so tuition and fees are generally higher than for public colleges. Many private colleges are church affiliated and receive funding from their religious denomination. Many private institutions (and more and more public institutions) depend on endowments and donations to help keep their costs down. Some private colleges have prestigious names that are known locally, nationally or internationally. Financial aid and scholarships are often awarded to a large number of students at private colleges.
UNT is governed by a 10-member board of regents, including one student regent. State assistance helps lower tuition and fees for UNT students. To help students graduate faster and start earning sooner, all full-time* undergraduate students pay about the same rate for university tuition and fees regardless of how many hours they take. Get the details at www.unt.edu/tuition.
*Enrolled in 12 or more semester credit hours
Because of the constitutional separation of church and state, public institutions are not church related, but private colleges may or may not have religious affiliations. The affiliation may be part of the institutionís name or it may be less obvious. Students at these institutions often must attend chapel or religious classes of some kind and may have to meet certain entrance requirements, such as church membership.
Some church affiliated colleges require faculty members to profess the churchís beliefs. Some students prefer knowing that others at the college have similar beliefs. Ask questions and determine whether the atmosphere is right for you.
Hispanic-serving institutions, tribal and historically black colleges and universities typically have a large number of minority students and significantly more minority professors than most colleges.
Some students like attending a college where most of the other students share their ethnic background, because they feel they fit in better, face less discrimination and have more opportunities to take leadership roles. Many students who attend minority-serving institutions report benefiting from the mentoring they receive from faculty and staff.
Many years ago, only men went to college. Eventually, colleges for women were established, and one by one most all male institutions went coed.
Those who choose to attend a womenís college believe the environment allows women to take more leadership roles and learn without the intimidation or distraction of the opposite sex. Womenís colleges also provide abundant opportunities to find mentors.
Specialty major schools focus primarily on one field of study, such as art, engineering, music or business. Often small, these colleges offer you the opportunity to become completely immersed in your major and to know that everyone around you has similar interests. This type of college is probably not the best choice for students who havenít decided on their major or who seek a liberal arts foundation, but it can be an excellent choice for very focused students.
UNT is the top institution for transfer students in the state and No. 6 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report ís Americaís Best Colleges 2010. In Fall 2009, more than 4,000 students transferred to UNT.