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T3 Scholar Resource: Postsecondary Pathways Explained

by Olivia Cowley

After high school, there are many options for students to continue their education and receive further training, but sometimes it may feel overwhelming! Here are some answers to commonly asked questions that will help you continue learning beyond high school.

Q: What are Postsecondary Pathways?

A: A Postsecondary Pathway is a way to continue your education or training after high school to help you become college and career ready. Right now, 65% of jobs require additional training beyond just a high school diploma, and that number is continuing to rise.

Q: What are the different options available to continue my education after high school?

A: Options are categorized into degree programs, like a certificate or a Bachelor's or Associates degree.

  • Bachelors: For students looking to attain the skills and academic readiness to open doors for professional opportunities. Bachelor’s degrees are generally designed to take about four years to complete.
  • Associates: For students who want to transfer to a 4-year college or university or want knowledge in a specific technical field. These programs generally require 2 years of full-time study.
  • Certification: For students who want to prepare for occupational employment and enter the workforce after completing the program. A technical school provides specialized training for a specific industry and can be under the umbrella of a 2-year community college. A certification is awarded after completing specific courses that have been industry validated. Depending on the program, certifications generally require only 1-2 years of full-time study.

Q: Is it better to go to a community college or a four- year university?
A: It really just depends on you and what you want your career path to look like! There are many factors that can influence which pathway is best for you.

  • Time: The biggest difference between the two programs is generally the amount of time it takes to complete each program. Generally, community colleges offer programs that can be completed in two years or less through earning an associate degree. After earning an associate degree, students can choose to start their career or continue their education to earn a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Cost: Tuition rates vary widely by institution, but community colleges are lower cost than many public institutions, without considering financial aid. If you are unsure of what you want to study, it might be beneficial to take classes at a community college, because you can always transfer most credits to a four year university to complete a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Distance: Community colleges don’t offer on campus housing options, so most students choose to continue living with family. Although you may live near a university, it might not offer the program or degree you are interested in pursuing. Often, students choose to move away from home in order to attend a 4-year university.
  • Other factors such as campus diversity, class sizes, athletics or extracurriculars can influence the decision on what postsecondary pathway is right for you.

Q: I want to get a bachelor’s degree. What is the difference between a private and public university?

A: Basically, it comes down to funding:

  • Public universities are funded with money from the government. This means that the cost of attendance generally might be lower, without considering sources such as scholarships, FAFSA/TAFSA, or other financial aid.
  • Private universities rely on tuition payments and donations or endowments. Although the tuition cost may be higher than a public university, private options can often offer students general financial aid options to make attending more affordable.

Q: Can I still use a scholarship at any postsecondary program?

A: If you are working with one of our partner intuitions, T3 scholarships will absolutely apply! It is important to work with the TCU advisors in the Go Center to get more information on financial aid options!


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Thanks to willing people like yourself more and more Tarrant County students are receiving the training and skills they need to thrive in today’s workforce.

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