Building a Life

A transition guide for Kansans

Things to Consider

  • Help your youth/young adult determine their interests and skills, then help them figure out if a college, university or vocational school will best serve their needs
  • Some higher education institutions offer life skill classes for non-degree students
  • Community colleges offer both academic and vocational paths

There are many universities and colleges to choose from in the state of Kansas— large and small, private and state institutions. For many families, selecting a small college is the best way to go, because it will be easier to navigate for the student. However, larger colleges and universities also have benefits and may offer specific programs or degrees that benefit your son or daughter. Right now, there’s great emphasis on degrees and jobs in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and you may find that larger colleges offer specialized programs in them.  The best way to find out is to talk with both the academic counselors and the chairperson of the academic department that houses the program your son or daughter is interested in. Remember, though, that a number of four-year institutions, even state universities, have entrance requirements.

 Community colleges offer a wide range of academic, vocational and community programs across the state.  As open-door institutions, they accept all applicants and offer a wide range of academic and career support services. One of the community college’s main purposes is to provide job training for area employers, so you’ll find a lot of non-credit classes designed to prepare individuals for specific jobs in your community. At the same time, they also offer two-year academic degree programs preparing students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities. Don’t be surprised to find chemistry, nursing, literature, heating and cooling, and industrial technology students all rubbing shoulders in English class at a community college. You’ll also find students from all over the world studying there, so if your college-age child is interested in world affairs, consider sending them to your area community college.


Communities provide vocational training for their residents through technical schools or colleges as well as traditional community colleges. These Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs generally have strong connections to the employers in their area, so they are good indicators of the types of jobs in your area as well as future jobs. Because so many jobs require both technical and critical thinking skills, states are promoting CTE, starting in high school. Kansas utilizes the National Career Cluster model, which links what students learn in high school to the knowledge and skills they need for success in post-secondary education and careers.

 For a list of technical schools, check out the Kansas Department of Education website below.