Planning for College

Learn about the different types of colleges and view helpful tips on how to choose a college major in this section.

College Life

Is college in your future? Check out what college life is really like in this section.

Virtual Tour

Can't make it to every campus tour? Check out these virtual tours.

Do you know what the best part about going to college is? You can learn anything and everything! Right now, you probably study five to seven subjects during the school year. In college, you can take many elective classes in subjects you've always been interested in from Criminal Justice to Shakespeare to Musical Theatre and Politics. Also, you'll choose a subject that most interests you. This special area of study, or major, is the subject you'll concentrate on during your college career. Believe it or not, there are over 900 majors to choose from. Here are a few possible college majors: Animal Sciences, Athletic Training, Computers, Criminal Justice, Education, Fashion, Management, Music, Nursing, Physical Education, and Radio/Television Broadcasting.

When you go to high school there are certain requirements you must meet for graduation. Similarly, when you receive a college diploma it will indicate you have completed all of the requirements for a specific program of study.

Knowing which major you want can be a very important step in the college process, but there is no pressure to figure it all out today! Your interests and talents can translate into various programs of study. Interested in athletics? That doesn't mean you have to play sports professionally. There are lots of ways to stay connected to athletics: as a journalist, sports agent, sports marketer, or stadium manager just to name a few. Have you always wanted to be an astronaut? Not everyone has to be an astrophysicist to be connected. There are positions at every level within NASA - from running camps and managing public relations to web design and computer programming. Are you the next Katie Couric? Barack Obama? Oprah Winfrey? Martin Luther King? Dr. Seuss? Every step you take towards connecting your academic goals to your professional goals will get you closer to your dreams.

Types of Colleges

In the United States alone, there are over 6,700 different postsecondary institutions offering a variety of programs and degrees. They are categorized in the following way:

Career Schools

  • Privately owned and operated
  • Programs of study ranging from five months to three years
  • Offer a wide variety of job training options
  • Feature concentrated curriculum focused on a specific field
  • Present in small class size format
  • Example: Michael's School of Hair Design & Esthetics

Community or Junior College

  • Offer fewer programs of study with a focus on job training
  • Programs of study usually two-years in length and are often designed to transfer to a four-year college
  • Present in small class size format
  • Generally are closer to home
  • Usually cost less than four-year colleges and universities
  • Offer certificates, licenses, associate of arts (A.A.) degrees, associate of science (A.S.) degrees and/or associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degrees
  • Example: Campuses of the Community College System of New Hampshire

Four-Year College

  • Public or Private - Self-supporting or supported by the state in which they are located
  • Offer a broad range of courses, usually emphasizing humanities, social science, and science
  • Mainly offer undergraduate programs
  • Present in small or large class format depending on the institution size and student to professor ratio
  • Confer bachelor's degrees - Bachelor of Art (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
    • Some also offer graduate and professional degrees
    • Example: Saint Anselm College, Keene State College


  • Public or Private - self-supporting or supported by the state in which they are located
  • Very large selection of majors and research facilities, with greater variety of classes
  • Usually offer four-year programs
  • Greater access to more faculty and expertise
  • Larger class size
  • Confer Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), graduate & professional degrees
  • Example: University of New Hampshire

Types of College Admission

  • Open - Accepts all students with a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Liberal - Accepts some students ranked in the lower half of the high school graduating class.
  • Selective/Competitive - Accepts mostly students ranked in the top 50 percent high school graduating class.
  • Highly/Most Competitive - Accepts mostly students ranked in the top 15-20 percent of the high school graduating class.

Types of Degrees Awarded by Postsecondary Institutions

  • Certificate or License - awarded upon completion of a specific short-term course of study.
  • Associate Degree (Associate of Art, Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science) - Degree awarded after the completion of defined coursework. These programs generally encompass two years of full-time study or about 60 credits.
  • Bachelor's Degree (Bachelor of Art, Bachelor of Science) - programs of study with a concentration in the arts or the sciences. This degree is awarded upon completion of four years of full-time study or the length of time needed to earn 120 credits.
  • Master's Degree - an advanced degree awarded beyond the bachelor's degree. The length of time necessary to complete the requirements of this degree depends upon the course of study and whether the student attends on a full-time or part-time basis. Credit requirements can vary from 36 to 60 depending on the field of study. Common abbreviations for this degree include: MA (Master of Arts), MS (Master of Science), MBA (Master of Business Administration), ME (Master of Engineering), MSW (Master of Social Work) and MED (Master of Education), to name a few.
  • Doctoral Degree - awarded for advanced and intensive study in a particular field. Common abbreviations include: MD (Medical Doctor), Pharm.D (Doctor of Pharmacy), PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery), and Ed.D (Doctor of Education), to name a few.

College Can Be Affordable

Every college has a different price. But, financial aid is available for everyone who applies. There are over $150 billion in grants, scholarships, and low-interest loans available every year for students to help them pay for a college education. Scholarships and grants can make an expensive college VERY affordable. So, keep studying and talk to your parents about starting a college savings plan now. Anyone who wants to go to college can!

Creative College Financing

Do you think it's too late to start saving for college? Not really!

The truth is even if you are in high school and haven't started saving there are still things you can do to make college more affordable.

Get College Credit Early

Many high schools offer advanced placement (AP) courses that allow students who test at a certain level to earn college credit. In addition, check to see if colleges in your area offer concurrent enrollment, which means you would be taking college courses for high school and college credit at the same time and for little or no extra money.

Go for 2 First

Begin your college career at a local two-year community college, a cheaper alternative that will offer you many of the same experiences of a four-year university. After taking core courses, you can transfer to a four-year school and save a lot of cash.

Stay Local, Go Public

Attending college at a public college or university in New Hampshire is a smart financial choice for many students and families. Many private colleges have a higher tuition rate than public colleges initially (which may be altered if you are offered a lot of grant and scholarship money from the school). For some students it may be more affordable for you to attend one of NH's public colleges. We always recommend that you have a more financially affordable school in your list of colleges that you are applying to, just in case other colleges are not able to offer you as much free money to attend as you would need. For many, a more financially affordable school is their local community college or public 4-year college.

Utilize Your Savings

As your high school career winds down; make a concerted effort to save as much as possible from your part-time or summer employment. These savings can be used to purchase books, supplies and class materials. You may also need money during your first week of school to pay for parking passes, phone and cable set-up. If you are able to save a considerable amount of money, you can either use this for spending money throughout the semester, or use it to help pay a portion of the tuition costs.

Buy Used Books

Check out your college bookstore's selection of used textbooks first. Usually they are in very good condition and sold at a discount. Also try using the Internet to find great deals. Check in advance for your textbook requirements for your upcoming classes. Then hit up these sites for great deals and bargain books.,,,

Outside Scholarships

Search online for local scholarships at Contact the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation at 800-464-6641 or visit for additional scholarship opportunities. Or, for national searches, consider

College Majors Defined

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