The post-secondary and college search process is an educational process: a journey of self-discovery full of challenges, rewards, and responsibilities. During this time you'll work with your parents/guardians and counselor to decide which path is the best match for you. All provide valuable experience and learning opportunities that make sense for you. This information is a supplement to the direct and personal support given by the Bedford school counselors through individual and group seminars, meetings, discussions and presentations.
Four-year Colleges and Universities
Students attend four-year colleges and universities to earn bachelor’s degrees by successfully completing the degree program. There are hundreds of these institutions to choose from, and they vary by size, admission criteria, academic standards, and what types of courses they offer.
Many four-year colleges and universities also have graduate and professional schools. Universities tend to be larger than colleges and offer graduate programs whose courses may be open to undergraduate students. Due to their size, they may offer more classes/sections of classes, and have greater flexibility in scheduling, especially across different fields of study. University faculty may split their time and attention between research and teaching. Some larger universities divide their programs into “colleges” or “schools” such as Boston University’s School of Communication or Bucknell University’s College of Engineering.
Students attend two-year colleges to earn an Associate of Arts (AA) degree or an Applied Science (AAS) degree. Students who earn an AA degree may later transfer credits to a four-year college or university. Those who have earned an AAS degree (which is occupation-specific, such as automotive technician) may be able to transfer some credits earned to a four-year institution. Certificate programs are very specific and graduates from a certificate program tend to go directly into the workforce after graduation. Community colleges have become an increasingly popular choice. A 2-year school may be a less expensive option for students looking to start careers (earning money!) sooner, for those who need to improve their academic record to get into a 4-year school, and students who simply want to save money on their general education courses before transferring to a more expensive 4-year institution.
Public community colleges have open-admissions policies. To apply, candidates must have a high school diploma or the equivalent and complete an application. The timeline for applying to community college is somewhat different than four-year schools as well. Students can decide to apply as late as the end of senior year. An additional advantage to the community college system is that students who are in good academic standing, may automatically transfer to a Massachusetts public university.
Massachusetts Community Colleges: http://www.masscc.org/
VOCATIONAL & TRADE SCHOOL
Technical post-secondary schools combine career-specific training with general academic curricula. While some programs take two to four years to complete, most can be completed in two years or less. Students studying at a technical school will study a very specific field, and be prepared for direct entry into the working world. Technical colleges or technical institutes, provide specialized training in a specific career field, trade, or profession, including computer technology, business administration, culinary arts, electronics, medical assisting, legal assisting, automotive technology, and cosmetology. Technical colleges emphasize hands-on training and offer internship experience in a relevant work setting. Job placement services are also available to students. Many programs prepare students to take licensing or certification exams upon completion of the required courses.
Massachusetts Technical Schools: https://masscis.intocareers.org
Apprenticeship is job training that involves following and studying a master of the trade on the job instead of in school. Carpenters, masons, electricians, and many other professionals often learn their trade through apprenticeship.
For information on apprenticeships visit the Department of Labor website: http://www.doleta.gov/oa/
The Military Tuition Assistance Program authorizes the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard to pay up to 100% of school tuition and fees for eligible military personnel. Each service branch has its own eligibility criteria, including the amount of time you have to serve, the application process and the restrictions that are placed upon your benefits. To get the details on qualifying for TA benefits, be sure to check out our pages on tuition assistance for each of the specific service branches. Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a college-based military officer training program offered by more than 1,000 colleges. Academic scholarships are offered in exchange for military service after graduation. Contact individual colleges for further details.
The ASVAB test is a multiple choice test used by the military to measure an applicant’s suitability for enlistment. For more information please visit the ASVAB website.
Coast Guard – https://www.uscg.mil
Army National Guard - http://www.nationalguard.com/recruiter
Air National Guard – http://www.goang.com/RequestInformation
Job opportunities are continually posted and updated throughout the year on the bulletin board in the Guidance & Counseling Office.
For more information visit the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website: https://www.mass.gov/
GAP YEAR PROGRAMS
The gap year is increasing in popularity around the country. Students who take a gap year typically take the year off between high school and college to do something educational and meaningful. The programs vary from opportunities for learning & internships to volunteering & travel.
If you are considering this option, we recommend that you go through the process of applying to college in your senior year. In the spring, pay the initial deposit at the college you would like to attend, and request that the college defer your entry for one year to hold a spot in the following year’s incoming class (if you know you are going to pursue this option in advance, make sure that the colleges you are applying to allow you to defer). Many colleges look favorably on students who opt for an enrichment experience between high school and college, as they feel students arrive on campus more mature and focused. Below are some helpful websites and resources to facilitate your search.
College Can Wait!: The reluctant student's guide to gap years, resume-building, travel, internships, and figuring out what you really want
Gap to Great: A Parent’s Guide to the Gap Year
Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs
The UnCollege Alternative
Center for Interim Programs www.interimprograms.com
Outward Bound www.outwardbound.org
National Outdoor Leadership School www.nols.edu
Volunteer Scientific Field Research www.earthwatch.org
AFS Intercultural Programs www.afs.org
City Year www.cityyear.org
Peace Corps www.peacecorps.gov
Programs & opportunities for study, internships, work & travel www.whereyouheaded.com
Internships Programs with Dynamy www.dynamy.org
A post-graduate year is typically an additional year of academic study in a boarding school style of learning. The PG year is usually offered by independent private schools throughout the country and stresses the ideal of the student’s achieving their greatest potential. For those interested, the guidance & counseling department has a list of private schools in the New England area that offer a PG year. Below are some resources to help get you started on your search.
Boarding School Review www.boardingschoolreview.com
Private School Review www.privateschoolreview.com
In any of these cases, the post-graduate year is a worthwhile option to consider. Typically, those who consider this option do so for any number of reasons including enhance their study skills and time management, allows a student to mature socially and take time to improve their academic record in a structured environment with small classes in order to increase college options. Others, take another year to strengthen athletic ability to pursue a sport in college.