Do you need to go to a four-year college? The answer depends on your career goals. Let’s look at the different kinds of schools.

Colleges and universities are both four-year schools where you can get a bachelor’s degree. Colleges are smaller, often private, and may or may not offer graduate degrees as well. They usually place more emphasis on the liberal arts.

Universities are larger, may be public or private, and usually include graduate and professional programs as well as undergraduate majors. They often have a strong research bent and offer training in scientific and technical fields.

With both colleges and universities, the standard four-year undergraduate curriculum includes general-education requirements in addition to work in your major. These courses (including subjects like English composition, math, science and history or government) are considered part of a well-rounded education.

A community college — which used to be called a junior college — awards an associate’s degree after two years of study. This degree may be all you need to get into some careers.

Looking at other options

You may not need a traditional college degree. Depending on your career goal, you might do best with a school that will train you for that career. Examples are skills training for specific trades (like carpentry, hair-styling or auto mechanics) schools in the performing or visual arts and seminaries or rabbinical schools.