Post-secondary education, which can be acquired in many different settings today, opens up a world of opportunities for high school graduates. Higher education in the United States comprises thousands of institutions that serve a wide diversity of students and an equally wide variety of academic preparation levels. As the demand for higher education grows, unpacking this diversity has become important to inform public dialogue about how students access higher education and whether or not they are successful.
Evidence from several national sources confirms that a post-secondary education is worth the rising cost. It allows students to develop marketable skills they cannot normally acquire otherwise. Strictly in terms of income, any type of post-secondary education—whether it has the academic focus of a liberal arts education, a direction toward a challenging technical career or a combination of both types of learning—can prepare a student to enter into professions with much higher salaries compared to students who begin working directly after high school graduation.