Both high schools and colleges are known to give exceptional experiences to students. From classroom learning to extracurricular activities and having fun with friends, these form some important elements of life that help you learn both the academic and social skills needed to thrive in your career.  While both secondary and post-secondary education ultimately aims to unlock the potential of students in different fields of study, there are some notable differences that separate both these education settings. This post tries to put some light on the same.

What is Secondary Education?

Secondary education is the second stage of formal education. Following primary or elementary education, secondary education is provided between sixth and twelfth grade. In the United States, secondary education is further comprised of two programs – “middle school” or “junior high school” and “high school.” High school instruction, which offers general, vocational, technical, or college-preparatory courses, serves as a basis for further education. After earning a high school diploma or equivalent, many students choose to pursue post-secondary education, in order to earn a professional certification or college degree. In the United States, secondary education is compulsory through the age of 16. Moreover, it is free in public schools.

Graduating from high school is a moment of excitement and a big achievement for many people but it is just a tiny chapter of the big book. The majority of students who earn a high school diploma enroll themselves in vocational courses, apprenticeship programs, or college to secure their future. This is when the concept of postsecondary education rolls in.

More: The Difference Between a High School Diploma and a High School Certificate

What is Post-Secondary Education?

Post-secondary, also known as tertiary education, refers to any educational program that you enroll in after completing your secondary education. Traditionally, when postsecondary education is discussed, most people just think of colleges and universities. However, it actually involves a broad range of options. These include a professional course, a community college (associate degree), undergraduate studies and a four-year college degree. Thus, any formal education beyond high school is postsecondary education.

Post-secondary education is broader than secondary education. It is more advanced and specialized as it allows students to follow the subjects that they are most interested in. While it is a non-compulsory education level in the United States, pursuing post-secondary education opens a door to whole new opportunities for students. Many students think that college education is just an extension to secondary education. But, in reality, it encompasses more than that. Post-secondary education may not be compulsory, but in the current economy where unemployment rates are almost touching the skies, it’s hard for the millennials to find a good job without earning an advanced diploma or degree after high school. Thus, post-secondary education has become really important to thrive in this competitive world.

Related : Why is Education So Important in Our Life?

Differences Between Secondary Education and Post-Secondary Education

  • Secondary education mainly aims to prepare students to either enter into a vocational career that does not need further formal education or pursue post-secondary education. On the other hand, post-secondary education helps students develop advanced skills and expertise in particular subjects that later help them build their professional careers. For instance, a student who enrolls and studies in a medical college becomes a doctor. A computer engineering graduate may become a software developer or a student who studies English literature in a college may become a Writer.
  • Since secondary education is not specialized, it keeps you opting for certain careers. For example, many job markets like healthcare, dentistry, psychiatry, social work, and marketing fields are closely connected to education. These careers specifically call for a degree, which is not possible without post-secondary education. So, if you wish to pursue your career in these selective fields, it becomes important for you to obtain a college degree.
  • The secondary education is compulsory for all children in the United States. While the age ranges from state to state, it is usually from 16 to 18 years of age. Post-secondary education is non-compulsory.
  • Unlike high school, going to college comes with certain responsibilities. If you are away from your home, you have to learn to live a self-sufficient life and become self-driven. You have to become more organized in your daily routine – you will have to choose your own courses and class schedule, decide which extracurricular activities you’ll focus on and how much time you’ll dedicate to your academics and extras. Time-management is one important skill that will keep you on track while you are pursuing post-secondary education.
  • Secondary education is less rigorous than post-secondary education. For example, in a high school, you can finish all your homework in one night, but that’s not even nearly possible in a college. The academic assignments you get in the college are not picked from any random textbooks, but they are meticulously designed by professors. These assignments help you develop certain skills that are in high demand among top employers. Some of them include general communication skills, research skills, writing skills, and collaboration skills. All these skills apply to real-life situations which improve your chances of getting a career success.
  • The secondary school gives the student a wider perspective about education and what career choice they would like to make in the future. Post-secondary education, on the other hand, prepares students for the job market. A grad degree showcases your advanced knowledge, skills, and accomplishments. The employers have high expectations today and completing postsecondary education puts you above all other candidates that just hold a high school diploma.
  • Although achieving career success without post-secondary education is not impossible and many manage to earn a good income with it, many highly paid professions, which include blue-collar and white-collar jobs, require postsecondary education and a license. Many unskilled workers, with no advanced degree or diploma after high school, usually get stuck in low-paying jobs with little to no chances of further growth. Thus, candidates having a college degree have more earning potential than those having just a high-school diploma.

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