Choosing a College

What type of college should I go to?

There are different types of colleges that fit each person’s unique goals. Think about what your goals are, and weigh your options to find a college that best fits your needs. If you’re unsure about what you want to study or haven’t chosen a career yet, our Career Discovery guide can help you get started. If you’re ready to choose a college, it’s time to decide what type of school.

Two-Year College

Two-year colleges offer two-year degrees (associate degrees and certificates) at a low tuition rate. Associate degrees are needed for many jobs, and can also be an affordable way to earn credits that can transfer to a four-year college. These colleges usually don’t have on-campus housing.

Four-Year College

Four-year colleges offer bachelor’s degrees. Often, these colleges also offer master’s and doctoral degrees. Many four-year colleges provide on-campus housing and are ideal for full-time students. Four-year colleges can be either private or public.

Public College

A college supported by state funding. For Indiana residents, Indiana public colleges have lower tuition than private colleges. Public colleges can be two- or four-year institutions.

Private College

Nonprofit colleges usually have smaller enrollments than public institutions, and they mainly offer bachelor’s degrees. Private colleges often charge higher tuition than public colleges.

Research Institution

A research institution has professors who do research in their fields, as well as teach. Many four-year public colleges are also research institutions.

For-Profit College

These colleges run as businesses and usually offer one- to two-year degrees in high-demand industries. Be careful around for-profit colleges that are not accredited, sound too good to be true or charge high tuition. More information on these schools can be found here.

Online Schools

Many colleges offer online classes, while some colleges now exist exclusively online. These colleges don’t have traditional campuses, but instead teach classes to students from around the world. Online courses are a good idea if you need a flexible schedule due to work or personal restrictions. They often allow you to take your learning completely at your own pace without set class times. As always, look for accredited colleges to be sure the degree you earn will be valuable in the workforce.

Special-Focus Colleges

Some colleges have specific focuses that may appeal to you. These focus areas include gender (male- or female-only) colleges, religion (including seminary), the arts (conservatories), military colleges and more.

Ready to Apply?

Learn more by checking out our guide
for applying to colleges & schools in Indiana.

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How should I choose the
right college?

Choosing the right college for you is important. Not only does each career path require a unique kind of degree, some require specific majors. Plus, you’ll want to consider things like cost, how much independence you want, how big you want your school to be and the culture around extracurricular activities like collegiate sports.

You should visit the colleges you’re interested in to see how you like them. You can take an in-person or virtual tour of the campus, talk to advisors and current students, and get a feel for the environment overall. Ask a professor if you can sit in on a class, or find a group of students to talk to about their experience there.

Learn more about what you can get out of campus tours with BigFuture’s Campus Visit Guide.

Additional resources for choosing a college

If you still need a little help deciding which type of school to attend, check out our School Finder Tool which provides more details around individual schools, programs of study and more and may help you decide which school is the best fit for you.


Classroom Worksheets

College Go! Bulletin Board Kit