Your 1st choice is choosing what you want to do with the rest of your life. You should have 3-4 CAREER options/choices/picks of jobs you intend to do after graduation. If you still need to look into this some more, I’m more than happy to provide you with my 3 step approach to making the right CAREER choices.

In fact, check out the article I posted in March that covered finding your CAREER choices! It’s a 3 part series on 3 links available to you to follow this easy step-by-step approach to finding who you are, and how you can fit into certain careers and jobs. Remember you have 45-50 years before early retirement.


As a college recruiter I had such great opportunities to talk with parents of high school students getting ready for college. Most of the time these conversations are at college fairs or in school offices, where parents are totally confused, some of them discouraged at the number and variety of schools offering all the same choices or totally different, thus making it difficult and a daunting experience.

Many questions from mom and dad are usually centered around cost, degree offerings and the type of school their son or daughter would be interested in attending, or feel comfortable with. Some typical questions regarding the different types, what they offer, and how many years, cost vs. private schools, the ease of getting in, or the difficulty. Most of this kind of information is pretty basic, but it’s what drives a lot of people to procrastinate when making these kinds of choices in colleges and attending. Do you feel this way at all? Maybe. At either rate, I wanted to give you some thoughts about the different TYPES of colleges. As well as why I think this is an important topic and something for you to consider.

Remember, one of the most difficult decisions you make in life center around these very same experiences. Plenty of tough decisions in life. Let’s start with these.

I often discuss why students would attend a community college first, rather than moving to a university. Why some students are natural fits with a hands-on type of education as opposed to a traditional classroom setting. Distance between home and school is a big factor. Some of you want to stay close to home. Mom and dad you might feel this way too? Maybe not? Some of you want out-of-state and to be as far away as possible. These are initial thoughts you should be addressing now before making your choice.

Start here…

Make a list of everything you want in a college. What would make you the happiest in college and what are the things you are looking for in order to even consider a particular college or university. Make a list.

Now make a list of all the BAD things or the things that you do not want or could use without in a school. everything from the class to the living situations and food you’ll eat.

You may not get all of these that you wanted (or didn’t) in a college. Not every college is perfect. But make it the best you can.

This is your 2nd RIGHT choice…

A Bachelor’s degree is 4 years, but not everyone goes just four years. Its takes some time. You change your minds, find a newer and more interesting career while in college. Many times things change in your four years of college, so it’s necessary to understand that not everyone follows the exact time line of higher education. That’s okay, but here’s the catch: many young people enter college for the wrong reasons. Or you HAVE to make this the SECOND right choice. Finding the school that is the best fit for you possibly. It won’t be a perfect fit. Nothing ever is. It’s called Life Security. But making the right choice for the college you plan to attend starts with having several options.

So, I’ve added the definitions of 4 types of higher education institutions that officially make up the different types of schools you can consider when choosing different colleges.

Not all of you are made for the university/campus setting. Think about your own personality and how it measures up with the type and size of school that you would consider attending.  These following definitions can help you!

I was talking with my brother about his son and daughter attending college in the future. My nephew Matt is a vocational type of student. Someone who likes hands-on work and it is primarily because he likes to do-by-learning, or learn-by-doing. He’s a hands-on visual person. Matt enjoys technical stuff and I can see him in a field of web design, technical operations, or even some sort of science. There are certain institutions that cover this. Although a terrific person and very friendly to people, I believe Matt can survive and be extremely successful by attending a vocational or liberal arts college to attain his degree.

On the other hand, my niece Katie is the involved type of person where she would prefer the larger institution. There she would have more opportunities to be involved as a student in extra-curricular organizations and offices. I can see her as student body president, chairing up events or committees, being a student leader. The classroom setting might not specifically what she likes (but who really does nowadays), but the large university/campus setting is definitely what feeds her personality.

It is important to understand these first, then to make a choice based on your interests and personality.


A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education. The word university is derived from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium, roughly meaning “community of teachers and scholars”

A vocational university (professional university, or college of higher vocational studies) is an institution of higher education and sometimes research, which provides both tertiary and sometimes quaternary education and grants academic degrees at all levels (bachelor, master, and sometimes doctorate) in a variety of subjects. In some countries, a vocational university more precisely grants Professional degrees like Professional Bachelor’s degree, Professional Master’s degree and Professional doctorates). The term is not officially used in many countries and an assignment to a certain type of university in a certain country’s educational system is therefore difficult.

College (Latin: collegium) is a term most often used today in the United States to denote a degree-awarding tertiary educational institution and in other English-speaking countries to refer to an academically oriented secondary school.


In the United States, community colleges, sometimes called junior colleges, technical colleges, or city colleges, are primarily two-year public institutions providing higher education and lower-level tertiary education, granting certificates, diplomas, and associate’s degrees.

After graduating from a community college, some students transfer to a four-year liberal arts college or university for two to three years to complete a bachelor’s degree.


A liberal arts college is one with a primary emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts.

A “liberal arts” institution can be defined as a “college or university curriculum aimed at imparting general knowledge and developing general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum”  Although what is known today as the liberal arts college began in Europe, the term is commonly associated with the United States. Prominent examples in the US include the so-called Little Three and Little Ivy colleges in New England and the surviving, predominantly female Seven Sisters colleges along the northeastern seaboard, but similar institutions are found all over the country.

(1) smaller size than universities, which usually means more individual attention is given to each student;
(2) residential, which means students live and learn away from home, often for the first time, and learn to live well with others additionally, the residential experience of living on campus brings a wide variety of cultural, political, and intellectual events to students who might not otherwise seek them out in a non-residential setting; and
(3) a typically two-year exploration of the liberal arts or general knowledge before declaring a major.


Institute of technology, and polytechnic, are designations employed in a wide range of learning institutions awarding different types of degrees and operating often at variable levels of the educational system. It may be any institution of higher education and advanced research or vocational education, specializing in science, engineering and technology or different sorts of technical subjects. It may also refer to a secondary education school focused in vocational training.

Making the right career choice is important as well. It is not a requirement to know what you want to do before attending college. However, it makes it easy, and you have a better handle on your own destination.

I recently posted a 3 part series of blogs that will assist you to very simply and effectively choose the right career for you.

Part 1 consists of examining your likes and interests:

Part 2 consists of examining your own talents and skills, and why they play a large role in your likes and interests:

Part 3 then gives you an opportunity to understand your own personality and to categorize them based on your personalities traits:

Money is important too. 🙂 College costs a lot. But just because it is a private institution, does not mean that it is expensive. There are many private schools that are affordable and offer many various ways to paying for education. By searching websites like,, and even doing a GOOGLE, BING or YAHOO search on the different types of colleges, no matter where you search, it is pretty much the same.

Check these definitions out and let me know your thoughts.



Your Success is My Success


Keith Lipke is a careers and college recruiter, coach, mentor and blogger at    The Career Closet. His passion is to educate, inspire, and give hope to young people along their journey who need it upon their search for the right career.