Trading out college

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photo by Emily Patterson

Many students are pushed to attend the typical four-year university, however many might not know that there are other options that can still have positive impacts on their future.

When you sit down for your family dinner, chicken is not the only thing on the menu. It comes with a side dish of lectures on your academic future, that specifically being of your college preparation. 

Right after high school graduation, the expectation is that  students will immediately  go into a four-year university. And after the four years of  rigorous courses and rising expectations, that is the only option students think they have. However, there are other paths. 

Alternate options can range from a gap year, enlisting in the military, and even just going to a trade school. All of these other options are a great way to be successful without the stress and burdens college can cause; especially choices like trade schools. 

Trade schools allow students to learn skills needed to enter a certain career field, such as cosmetology or plumbing. Students who attend trade school typically can finish in two years or less. 

Although these schools may seem different from the normal four-year college experience, trade schools are just as helpful at shaping young adults to be successful in life. Just like college, they can help open career doors and ways for people to learn skills and earn money after high school. In the end, there are many pros that make trade school a good alternative for students who do not want to attend college. 

While it may already be obvious, one of the biggest benefits of trade school is the costs. According to recent statistics, college can cost around $25,487 a year, and that is only the cost of one academic year of in-state college. On the other hand, trade schools usually only cost around $33,000 all together. Not only does it significantly cost less, but spending less time in school means there are more opportunities to make money. 

Trade school graduates have the advantage of entering the job market two years earlier than four-year college students. Along with that, due to attending a school primarily focused on one specific job graduates have a set of jobs they can work because of their trade, and can spend less time trying to find a career. 

While yes, some jobs students get after college pay more than trade school jobs, there are still a variety of jobs that will financially support students and let them live comfortably. According to the median salary for elevator installers and repairers in 2020, they can make around $88,540. Compared to the necessary living wage during 2020, $67,690, a person who enters this trade can still be successful.

Other trade careers that are good and can make a lot of money are electricians and welders. Welders can make around $37,830 and electricians can make around $43,300-$54,200, based on how much experience they have. Both of these careers also have expected growth rates of about 89 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So although college may seem like the only option you have to be successful, things like trade school are also available and can benefit students’ futures. 

Another major bonus of going to a trade school is that most jobs are in high demand, according to 2021 statistics. Jobs students enter after trade school are typically more needed because most of these jobs are necessary for day-to-day life and most can only be done by people who learned the trade and have the specialized skills for it. 

These schools, compared to colleges, help propel students into the workfield by taking less time, teaching them the special trades and usually giving them real-world experience beforehand. This experience can be very helpful because it allows students to have more knowledge and hands-on experience through apprenticeships and internships, this in turn can make them a more competitive option for employers. 

Trade schools are spread throughout every state, making them also just as available as colleges and registration for trade schools is easy, even easier than college registration. Students interested in going to trade school in Florida just need to complete online registration or email the school, and typically there is no deadline.

While college is still a good option for students, there are still many other options out there that can help students be successful, one of them being trade school. College should not be the only option “available” and taught to students in high school. Parents, administrators, and schools should put in effort in opening all doors and making them equally available for students, without creating the notion that college is needed to succeed and any other option will lead to failure.

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