What’s the Difference Between Career Colleges and Online Universities and Which Is Right for You?

Deciding between a career college and online university is a decision that should be given a lot of consideration and could make a huge impact on becoming successful in your fields of interest. Every person has their own challenges and goals that are unique to them, so it’s important to take those into consideration when deciding which kind of school would work best for your situation.

Career Colleges

Career colleges, also known as vocational schools, are typically a good fit for individuals who either know specifically what career they’re interested in, or for those looking to enhance the skills they may have developed earlier in a career. Because these colleges are targeted to specific trades, students benefit from a streamlined curriculum focused on teaching job skills related to the field they choose. Popular career college programs include allied health, licensed practical nursing, information technology and auto mechanics.

While universities will teach a number of subjects not directly related to a specific career, vocational schools give less emphasis on subject theory and place more weight on teaching subject application. It may help to think of a career college as being devoted to training students rather than providing a traditional education with a broad knowledge base.

With a streamlined curriculum, one advantage students will enjoy at a career college is the shorter amount of time it takes to complete their education. Many of the degrees and certificates can be completed in two years, allowing students to get into the workforce much faster than traditional four-year students. As a result, career college graduates find themselves becoming industry experts more quickly and gaining valuable experience while their traditional student counterparts are still in school working on their degrees.

Additionally, career colleges often cost less from a tuition standpoint – another advantage of the streamlined curriculum. Also, if the career college is nationally or regionally accredited, and you should make sure it is, financial aid is often available to those who qualify.

Online Universities

For those who are interested in careers that require bachelor’s or master’s degrees, an online university is the logical choice. You can still get an education that rivals a traditional college, while taking advantage of the convenience and flexibility not typically available with traditional, on-campus universities.

In fact, flexibility is usually one of the deciding factors when students opt to enroll in a university’s online degree or certificate program. Career colleges and four-year schools require commitments that aren’t always conducive for all student types. Driving to classes, attending study groups and finishing projects during university hours aren’t an option for some, such as students with a large number of family and job commitments, or military personnel and their families. Online universities open up the potential for non-traditional students to get the education they seek while still balancing everyday life of jobs, family, and friends. Moreover, classes are structured so that students complete their work at a pace that works for them.

A common misconception of a university online program is that the faculty is subpar. However, online universities have some of the best professors available. Online university faculty usually have more first-hand experience with the subjects they teach and are recruited because of their expertise. Also, while tuition for online universities is often more than that of a career college, it’s still usually a more economical option than traditional brick-and-mortar universities. You’ll be able to take classes at your pace which can also cut down on expenses if you take a gradual approach.

Both career colleges and online universities can be good options depending on what your personal challenges and goals are. Many associate degree seekers will find a career college sufficient, while those who need a more advanced degree will probably gravitate toward the online university. No matter which you choose, the experience will be what you make of it.