What Is the Definition of Post-Secondary Education?

Post-secondary education—also called tertiary education—is any type of education that happens after secondary education. It is the highest level of education, and its purpose is preparing the brightest students to assume leading roles at companies, and advance our civilization.

When do you get into post-secondary education? After high school, which is commonly referred to as secondary education.

Examples of post-secondary education certificates include bachelor degrees, master’s degrees, and PhD. Trade schools are also included in this category.

There is a great deal of variety in post-secondary education. You can study whatever you want there. Are you interested in ancient cultures? There is a program for you. Do you want to become a chemical engineer and research new materials? There is a program for you. Do you want to become a lawyer? You know the drill.

In this article, you are going to learn more in-depth what it means to enter post-secondary education. How to get there. How to excel at it. Why you should do it, and what you should expect from it.

Why Go for Post-Secondary Education?

The main reason people enroll in post-secondary education is monetary. Degrees from higher institutions make you more palatable in the eyes of employers. You are better prepared for jobs. You also prove you are willing to go the extra mile to become a stronger candidate.

Compare someone with a degree with someone who doesn’t. Assuming both are at the beginning of their working journey on the field, the person with the degree will always be the one picked by employers. It’s a matter of expectations.

At the end of the day, employers are just trying to run their business to the best of their abilities. Employing someone who shows more potential is just the sensible thing to do. This is not to say you can’t find a job without a degree. It’s just that you’ll need to distinguish yourself in another way.

Not only your job research will be easier. You’ll also be more qualified for a wider range of jobs. What this means is that you’ll be able to be pickier when it comes to applying. A person without a degree will quickly find out they don’t have that many options.

Plus, people without degrees also find it harder to get promoted.

The bottom line is: people with degrees usually earn more, they advance faster in their career, and find work much more easily.

Why not Go for Post-Secondary Education?

While the previous section made a compelling case for enrolling in a post-secondary education program, there are situations in which you could avoid it.

  • You don’t need it for what you want to do with your life

There are plenty of jobs out there that bring immense satisfaction, good money, and don’t require a degree.

Examples include hairdresser, firefighter, and virtual assistant. All of these jobs will net you a decent salary right out of high school, and have huge potential to become money-making machines if you make a career out of them.

  • You don’t want to take on student debt

Post-secondary education is expensive. Not everyone feels comfortable with taking on student loans. You will have to repay them eventually. If you aren’t 100% sure about your academic and career path, enrolling in college might not be the best idea.

It is an investment in yourself first and foremost. Do you feel like it will pay off in the long run? If not, perhaps it’s best to stay away from it.

  • You want to do your thing

This point is somewhat related to the first one in this section. There are jobs for which degrees exist, but companies don’t necessarily care about. An example is programming. You don’t need a college degree to learn how to code.

What you need is a willingness to learn, and the right attitude to search and practice by yourself. The internet is full of tutorials for any language under the sun.

Another example of something that doesn’t require education is starting your own business. Nobody cares about your education, as long as you have something they want or need.

Let’s do a little thought experiment. Suppose you found the cure for cancer. Do you think people with cancer will refuse to buy your solution just because you don’t have a degree? They will buy it even if you’re a homeless man living on food stamps. It works and they absolutely need it.

It might sound like an exaggeration, but the same thought process applies to every other product/service.

  • You want to learn more about a subject

Not everyone is after better jobs of more money. Some people just want to learn something for the joy of learning. However, this is usually reserved to older people.

The internet is chock-full of videos and articles about anything. You can learn on your own time without having to attend an official education program.

Warning: this is best done once you’re already settled in life. If you’re fresh out of high school, don’t go to college just to learn more about a subject. You need to have a strong life vision.

How to Get into Post-Secondary Education

Before getting into post-secondary education, you need to finish secondary education (high school). Once you’ve done so, you’ll be able to apply for tertiary education programs.

Getting into post-secondary programs can be a headache. Some schools are extremely selective, while others have laxer requirements. Ivy League colleges are extremely selective, while community colleges in smaller states are way more accepting of students.

Generally, high school students apply to multiple schools at once to increase their chances of getting accepted.

What do you need in your application to increase your chances of getting accepted?

The main factor considered by school boards is your previous academic path. Specifically, your GPA. Is your GPA satisfactory? If yes, you have a leg up over a lot of the competition. Previous academic success is a good predictor of future academic prowess.

Other factors that can make your application stronger include having a strong statement of purpose, and relevant work experience in the field you’re applying for. Let’s say you want to become a veterinarian. If you volunteered at a zoo, or helped out a licensed veterinarian, your vet school application will be much more appealing for the school board.

Picking the Right Post-Secondary Education Program

This is the crux of many high school students. I can’t even decide what to eat the next day, how am I supposed to know what I want to do with my life?

Picking a program is daunting. It’s also confusing. There are a million programs out there, and some look very similar to others.

Start with the schools’ resources. They have counselors and materials designed to help students decide. You should get a very good idea of the program and your employability after checking these out.

Research is at the heart of this. Most universities publish how many students fight a job within a year after graduation. Try to avoid universities that have bad employment records.

Then, consider your passions. These are a very good hint. But don’t just say “oh I’m good with numbers, I’ll major in math”. That’s a recipe for disaster. Think about why you’re good with numbers. What is it about numbers that you really enjoy?

Keep digging. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and what gets you going. You’ll be able to make the right choice if you self-reflect enough.

For some people, this is as easy as “I want to become an engineer”. Sure, they’ll still have to choose between the various specialties, but if you have a calling like that, you’ll find it much easier to figure out the right college for you.


Post-secondary education is your ticket to high-earning and satisfying jobs. This is not to say that you can’t get one without a degree, but you’re opening up a lot of doors for your future career path with one.

picking the right post-secondary education program can be complicated. You’ll have to do a lot of self-reflection to figure out what you actually want out of your life.

And please, do not listen to other people when picking a college. I understand some parents can be extremely pushy, but it’s your life to live, not theirs. If you go to a certain college you hate just to make them happy, you’ll find yourself in a miserable spot.

It’s your life. You only have one. Live it like you want.

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