Types of Colleges

There are many types of colleges, universities and other post-secondary options to fit different career choices and student personalities. High school students should begin early on to figure out what type of school they would like to attend. The summary below will get you started.

Universities are typically larger than colleges. They usually offer more majors, research facilities and graduate programs. Class size can be significantly larger. It is not unusual for a graduate student to teach a class under the guidance of a professor.

Liberal Arts Colleges
Liberal arts colleges offer a broad base of courses in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Most are private and focus mainly on undergraduate students. Classes tend to be small and students may have more interaction with their instructors.

Community Colleges
Community colleges offer a degree after the completion of two years of full-time study. They frequently offer technical programs that prepare you for immediate entry into the job market. The Sacramento region is served by the Los Rios Community College District. Los Rios has four campuses: American River College, Cosumnes River College, Folsom Lake College and Sacramento City College.

For students who plan to transfer to a four-year institution after completing their studies at a Los Rios school, each Los Rios campus offers Transfer Admission Guarantees (TAG) options. The TAG program provides eligible students guaranteed admission to a UC campus college and academic term of choice, but not necessarily for impacted majors – if a student satisfies certain requirements for admission to a UC while at their community college. Los Rios schools offer TAG options to seven University of California campuses – Davis, Irvine, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz – as well as to the University of the Pacific. American River College also has TAG options with Bethany University, Golden Gate University, Humboldt State University and Santa Clara University. Folsom Lake College offers TAG options with Golden Gate University, California State University, Monterey Bay and St. Mary’s College of California.

Although the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) does not offer a TAG option, Sacramento City College does participate in the Transfer Alliance Program with UCLA. By completing five honors classes and maintaining a cumulative 3.2 grade point average, Sacramento City College has an 80 percent acceptance rate into UCLA.

Agricultural, Technical, and Specialized Colleges
Technical or vocational schools prepare students for specific careers. A career college is a private or public institution that offers certifications and degrees in a variety of career-specific fields. Some of the most popular subjects and careers include:

  • Accounting
  • Art and Design
  • Automotive
  • Business Administration
  • Cosmetology
  • Court Reporting
  • Culinary Arts
  • Dental Assistant
  • Electrician
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
  • Fashion Design
  • Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration
  • Hotel and Restaurant Management
  • Information Technology
  • Medical and Technical Careers
  • Nursing
  • Paralegal
  • Plumbing
  • Real Estate

Specialized Private Schools
Single-Sex: All four-year public colleges and most private schools are co-ed. In terms of single-sex colleges, there are about 50 specifically for men and about 70 specifically for women. Some may enroll a few men or women.

Religiously Affiliated Colleges
Some private colleges are affiliated with a religious faith. The affiliation may be historic only or it may affect day-to-day student life.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
Some colleges in the United States were created for black students. They were founded at a time when African Americans were not allowed to attend most other colleges. Today, these colleges are known as historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. While HBCUs may recruit students of all ethnicities, black students are usually the biggest group on campus. This gives African Americans a unique opportunity to experience an educational community in which they are a part of the majority, often for the first time.

Hispanic-Serving Institutes
There are about 135 institutions designated by the federal government as “Hispanic-Serving.” At these schools, Hispanic students comprise at least 25 percent of the total full-time undergraduate enrollment.