What Is Post Secondary Education in the United States?
If you’re unsure about what post secondary education in the United States is, you’re not alone. The country’s education system is highly decentralized and incredibly diverse, with public, private, religiously affiliated, and secular institutions. You can learn more about the system’s history and structure at the U.S. Department of Education. Here you’ll find links to state and federal education agencies, as well as a general overview of the country’s post secondary education.
The United States has two main types of colleges, undergraduate and graduate. Undergraduate colleges offer degrees and are usually two or four years long. Associate degrees, sometimes referred to as “transfer” degrees, can help students move on to higher education. However, if you have less money than you can afford to pay for four years of college, an associate degree can help you find immediate employment. Associate degrees are available in two different disciplines: arts and sciences.
As the number of postsecondary educational institutions continues to grow, the composition of the system itself is changing. While the Carnegie classification has been used to classify American institutions, the commission has denied that it was designed to create a hierarchy of institutions. The foreword of the 1987 edition of the Carnegie classification wrote, “We never intended for the classification to be used for this purpose.”
Proprietary or private schools are usually based out of the community and are owned by individuals who do not wish to be subject to the scrutiny of the collegiate world. These schools often focus on highly structured occupation-oriented courses of study and stray less from the skills necessary to perform the job. In the United States, there are approximately 1.4 million students enrolled in proprietary schools during the 1989-1990 academic year. Some proprietary schools enroll over ten thousand students every year.
Associate degrees are the first academic degrees awarded in U.S. post secondary education. Upon completion of an Associate degree programme, students may apply to higher degrees at the Bachelor level, but are not yet qualified to pursue graduate studies. AP programmes typically take two years of full-time study, but may take longer if a student is working or studying on a part-time basis. These courses may be offered in both liberal arts and general studies, or in a professional occupational field.
The role of HBCUs in post secondary education in America can be traced to the emergence of the first black colleges and universities. Founded by Booker T. Washington in the early nineteenth century, Tuskegee Institute placed a strong emphasis on industrial and agricultural education. This school’s model was followed by several subsequent HBCUs, including Howard University, Boston University, and the American University. In 1890, the Land-Grant College Act was amended to promote the establishment of African American land-grant colleges. Du Bois advocated an intellectual approach to the training of Black students, focusing on the development of a “talented tenth” of educated and skilled black leaders.
While HBCUs are not monolithic, they share a common mission and history. Today, they comprise about three percent of the U.S. post-secondary educational system, which includes public and private institutions. Overall, HBCUs offer nearly three hundred thousand undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 2011, non-black students represented 19 percent of their total enrollment; however, the majority of HBCU students are African Americans.
While it is true that the federal government has not created a formal list of HSIs, this lack of definition has impeded research and data collection, and has had a detrimental effect on funding decisions. Additionally, since the definition of HSIs was only developed in 2008, HBCUs, which are predominantly black institutions, had a leg up in securing funding and beneficial policies.
HSIs represent almost six percent of the total postsecondary institutions in the USA. They enroll half of all Hispanic college students and confer more degrees to minority students than all other colleges in the country combined. The federal definition of HSIs is contained in the Higher Education Act, which defines them as accredited, degree-granting public or nonprofit colleges and universities. Further, Hispanic immigration to the United States has increased, particularly in large cities, as more Hispanics are moving into communities near higher education institutions.
While these HSIs do not focus on the inclusion and diversity of Latinx students directly, they can positively influence a sense of belonging among Latinx students. Cultural signifiers, such as murals by Latinx artists, can also enhance a welcoming environment. However, despite these positive outcomes, the perception that some institutions are discriminatory toward Latinx students is still prevalent, and this should be addressed.
If you’re unsure about what post secondary education in the United States is, you’re not alone. The country’s education system is highly decentralized and incredibly diverse, with public, private, religiously affiliated, and secular institutions. You can learn more about the system’s history and structure at the U.S. Department of Education. Here you’ll find links to…