For many students and parents, deciding what comes after high school graduation is an important decision. You may be wondering if high school counts as post-secondary education or if you need to pursue education after high school to be considered post-secondary.

Keep reading to understand what post-secondary education is and whether high school fits into this category.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: High school is considered secondary education, not post-secondary education. Post-secondary education refers to any education pursued after high school, including college, university, vocational school, trade school, etc.

Defining Secondary and Post-Secondary Education

Secondary Education

Secondary education refers to the period of schooling that comes after primary education and before post-secondary education. It typically includes grades 9 to 12, also known as high school. During this time, students are provided with a comprehensive curriculum that covers various subjects such as English, math, science, social studies, and physical education.

The primary goal of secondary education is to prepare students for higher education or the workforce.

Post-Secondary Education

Post-secondary education, on the other hand, refers to any form of education that takes place after high school. This includes vocational schools, community colleges, technical institutes, and universities.

Post-secondary education offers a more specialized curriculum and provides students with the knowledge and skills required for specific careers or professions. It is also a gateway to higher degrees, such as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

While high school is considered a form of secondary education, it is not typically categorized as post-secondary education. High school education is generally compulsory and serves as a foundation for further education, be it in a vocational school or a college/university setting.

Post-secondary education, on the other hand, is optional and focuses on more specialized areas of study.

It is important to note that the definition of post-secondary education may vary depending on the country or educational system. In some countries, high school may be considered part of post-secondary education, especially if it includes vocational or technical training programs.

Therefore, it is essential to consult the specific guidelines and regulations of the country or educational institution in question.

Types of Post-Secondary Education

Vocational/Trade Schools

Vocational or trade schools are educational institutions that provide specialized training in a specific trade or occupation. These schools offer programs that focus on practical skills and hands-on training, preparing students for careers such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, or automotive technicians.

Vocational schools typically offer shorter programs compared to traditional colleges or universities, allowing students to enter the workforce more quickly. Some popular vocational schools include Lincoln Tech and ITT Technical Institute.

Community College

Community colleges, also known as junior colleges or technical colleges, offer a wide range of programs and courses that can lead to associate degrees or certificates. These institutions are often more affordable than four-year universities and provide opportunities for students to explore different fields of study before committing to a specific career path.

Community colleges also offer transfer programs, allowing students to complete their general education requirements and then transfer to a four-year university to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Some well-known community colleges include Santa Monica College and Valencia College.


Universities and colleges are institutions that offer undergraduate and graduate programs in various fields of study. These institutions typically award bachelor’s degrees, but many also offer advanced degrees such as master’s and doctoral degrees.

Universities often have multiple colleges or schools within them, each specializing in a specific area of study, such as business, engineering, or liberal arts. Some well-known universities and colleges include Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of Oxford.

Graduate School

Graduate school refers to post-secondary education that follows the completion of a bachelor’s degree. It is a specialized program that allows students to deepen their knowledge and expertise in a specific field.

Graduate programs often lead to master’s or doctoral degrees and require students to conduct research or complete a thesis. These programs are typically more focused and intense compared to undergraduate studies.

Graduate school can be pursued at universities or colleges that offer advanced degree programs. It is common for individuals who want to pursue careers in fields like law, medicine, or academia to attend graduate school.

Benefits of Post-Secondary Education

Increased Earning Potential

One of the significant benefits of pursuing post-secondary education is the potential for increased earning. According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn on average 67% more than those with only a high school diploma.

This wage gap continues to widen as individuals pursue higher levels of education, such as graduate or professional degrees. By investing in post-secondary education, individuals can position themselves for greater financial success in their careers.

More Job Opportunities

Having a post-secondary education opens up a wide range of job opportunities. Many professions require specific qualifications and degrees, and having the necessary educational background can significantly enhance job prospects.

For instance, a study conducted by Georgetown University found that by 2020, 65% of all jobs in the United States will require some form of post-secondary education. With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, individuals who have pursued higher education are more likely to stand out and secure desirable positions.

Personal Growth

Post-secondary education not only provides individuals with knowledge and skills in their chosen field but also fosters personal growth. College and university experiences expose students to a diverse range of perspectives, cultures, and ideas.

This exposure helps individuals develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, which are essential in today’s interconnected world. Furthermore, the college experience often involves opportunities for extracurricular activities, leadership roles, and community involvement, all of which contribute to personal development and self-discovery.

How to Transition to Post-Secondary Education

Take Required Standardized Tests

When transitioning from high school to post-secondary education, it is important to be aware of the standardized tests that may be required for admission. Many colleges and universities require students to take tests such as the SAT or ACT.

These tests assess a student’s knowledge and abilities in various subjects, and can play a significant role in the college application process. It is essential to research which tests are required by the schools you are interested in and prepare accordingly.

Practice tests and study materials are widely available to help you achieve your best possible score.

Research Schools and Programs

One of the most important steps in transitioning to post-secondary education is researching potential schools and programs. Take the time to explore different colleges and universities to find the ones that offer the programs and majors that align with your interests and goals.

Consider factors such as location, campus culture, and available resources. Websites like College Board and Niche can provide valuable information and reviews from current and former students. It is also beneficial to visit campuses, attend information sessions, and connect with current students or alumni to get a better understanding of the institutions you are considering.

Complete Applications

Once you have identified the schools and programs you are interested in, it is time to start the application process. Each college or university will have its own set of requirements and deadlines, so it is crucial to stay organized and keep track of important dates.

Gather all necessary documents, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. Pay attention to application fees and any additional materials that may be required, such as portfolios or audition tapes for specific programs.

Proofread your application materials thoroughly before submitting to ensure they are error-free and represent you in the best possible light.

Apply for Financial Aid

As the cost of higher education continues to rise, applying for financial aid is a crucial step in transitioning to post-secondary education. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal grants, loans, and work-study programs.

Additionally, research and apply for scholarships offered by the colleges or universities you are considering, as well as external scholarships from organizations and foundations. Utilize online resources like Fastweb and to search for scholarships based on your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and personal circumstances.

Taking the time to explore all available financial aid options can help make your post-secondary education more affordable.

Transitioning to post-secondary education can be an exciting but challenging time. By following these steps and staying organized throughout the process, you can navigate the transition successfully and set yourself up for a rewarding educational experience.


While high school provides an important foundation, it is considered secondary education, not post-secondary. After graduating high school, there are many benefits to pursuing some form of post-secondary education such as vocational school, community college, a four-year university, or graduate studies.

This can open up additional job opportunities, increased earning potential, and avenues for personal growth. With proper planning and research, the transition from high school to post-secondary education can be exciting and rewarding.

Similar Posts