College vs. Trade

By: Jaelyn Morales

When you’re about to graduate from high school and start your life as an adult, what is something that is on every teenager’s mind? If you said college, you are right. Most high-school students are so focused on getting into those four-year universities that they don’t give any thought to alternatives such as trade school. Students feel college is the only true path to a successful career because of parents who have high expectations or schools who don’t educate their students enough on the positives of trade school. In the 1980’s and 90’s trade school enrollment was at a low compared to college enrollment, but since the 2000’s the number of trade school enrollment has increased and will continue to grow, if more people think of trade school not as a failure or back-up plan, but as a chance to have a good career without going into debt or losing time. Mike Rowe, an apprentice on the TV series Dirty Jobs, has traveled around the US to work with plumbers, electricians, steamfitters, pipe-fitters, brick layers, farmers, fishers, and a bunch of other skilled workers who aren’t being recognized as much as they should be. He believes these jobs are as important as office jobs because who makes the building these office workers are in and the electricity, water, and plumbing. 

People assume vocational school is for people who weren’t in the top of their class or were struggling in college, but that’s not true at all. Tradespeople and skilled workers actually need to be very critical-thinkers and most have to be very accurate in terms of measuring, building, and more. Trade school also takes half the time college does because you are only learning the skills you will need for your specific job, while at college students have to learn a lot of other subjects they may not need in the future. Trade School not only takes half the time to complete, but is also almost half the cost of the average university. The average cost of a four-year university is $9,410(per year), while the average cost for trade school is $5,000-$15,000 in total. There is also a major increase in college students who are going into debt, just because they are trying to get their degree and when they finally get that job they have been working so hard for, their first earnings won’t be going towards something for them, but instead going towards paying off their college debt. 

Vocational schools focus mainly on training in fields like healthcare, manufacturing, and technology. Some trade school careers include electrician, welder, carpenter, nursing assistant, locksmith, plumber, dental hygienist, and home inspector. These are just a few careers out of the hundreds you can study for and start sooner than you would at college, while building experience faster. According to Education Data, in the United States, the overall dropout rate for undergraduate college students is 40% and 38% of college dropouts said they left due to financial pressure. Having shorter and way cheaper programs at trade schools helps students stay engaged and less stressed. There has been a great rise in students going to trade school after graduating from high school in the last couple of years, but there are still a lot of students who think their only option is college and we need to change that. The choice between trade school and college ultimately comes down to your personal preference and priorities, but before choosing try thinking about your future goals, interests, and passions. Remember to pick what is best for you and think about how your decision will affect you in the future.

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