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You Have More Choices than Simply ‘Going to Work’ or ‘Going to College’.
What to do after high school graduation is a question many students, recent graduates and their parents face. Should you go to work, go to a traditional four year college, or look at college alternatives after high school? This is a valid question, and the answer is not as clear as it was a generation ago.
Take a Look at Some College Alternatives
You have several options after high school instead of going straight to work. Each of these choices allow you to expand your knowledge and continue your education without attending a traditional college. Some of these include:
- Two-year Community College
- Trade School, Career College, or Vocational School
- Apprentice Program
- Volunteer Program – such as Americorps or the Student Conservation Association
- Student Exchange Program
- Joining the Military
4 Top Reasons to Go to Work after High School
There are several reasons a you might decide to work after high school graduation rather than go immediately to college.
- College Costs Money. For some, the deciding factor is the cost of attending college. You may not qualify for financial aid or a loan. Sometimes, personal or family debt may make it difficult to attend college at this time in your life.
- The Need to Work While Pursuing Another Career. Sometimes students, especially those in performing arts careers such as dancing, music or acting, need a “regular job” to pay bills while pursuing that career.
- College May Not Teach What You Want to Learn. If a student is presently working in a job they hope to turn into a career, it would be better for them to remain in that current job. It might be possible to become an apprentice to someone skilled in that field.
- You May Already Be Skilled in Your Career. Some students may be qualified in their work area before they graduate from high school. They include those who took vocational training during their high school years. Most high schools offer training in a variety of fields.
- The Demand for ‘Skilled Trades’ Workers is High. Working in a trade means you have the skills and knowledge necessary for a particular job or career field. Many of the jobs in skilled trades are in high demand and are expected to remain this way. Since more students are choosing to attend traditional college rather than trade school, the shortage of skilled workers is growing.
Have You Thought About Attending a Trade or Vocational School?
There are many skilled trades you might have interest in studying. It is important to choose a school that offers the hands-on training for the skills you want to study. This is where the benefits of attending a trade or vocational school become important.
Some of these benefits include:
- Hands-on Learning. If you are a student who learns best by physically doing a task, then you will be an ideal match for a trade school.
- Real-world Externships. Many trade schools offer externships, providing students with real-world experience prior to working on their own. Externships are good for your resume, and they are beneficial when potential employers are looking for “experience” in the field.
- Experienced Teachers. The best way to learn a skill is by actually doing it, and the best teacher is one who has been doing it for many years.
- Cost Saved. Attending a trade school can allow you to complete a program in a much quicker period of time, without the same expenses of a four-year college.
- Time Saved. A traditional college usually requires four years or longer to earn a degree, and community college takes two years. Training at a trade or vocational school school can usually be completed within a year and a half.
- Professional Certification. For many trades, it is important that you be certified in their field in order to work. Most trade schools will arrange for students to take the tests required while the training is fresh in their minds.
- Specialized Classes Focusing on a Single Trade. By attending a trade school, a student is able to focus solely on the skills they need for their particular field. There is no need to branch out into other educational areas like those that most traditional colleges or community colleges require.
Examples of Trade or Vocational Careers
Below is a partial list of some trades or vocational careers that a student might want to investigate. They include:
- Automotive Technician
- Computer Network Systems Technician
- Dental Assistant
- Medical Assistant
- Personal Trainer
- Pharmacy Technician
- Refrigeration & HVAC Technician
Statistics Supporting Success of Trade/Vocational School Graduates
Research has shown that:
- Only 30 percent of adults feel that a college degree is necessary to attain middle class, down from 37 percent previously.
- 44 percent of recent college grads – people aged 22 to 27 with at least a bachelor’s degree – were working in jobs that do not require a college degree.
- In the long-term, a college graduate – who is at the 25th percentile in income – can earn less than the typical high school graduate working in a trade. This pattern shows that the economic benefit of a college education is quite small for at least a quarter of those graduating with a bachelor’s degree.
Important Things to Consider Before Making Your Decision
For many students and their parents, the decision to attend a traditional college or to investigate college alternatives after high school graduation is a difficult one. Some things for you to consider include:
- The student’s career interest
- The student’s goals
- The student’s aptitude
- The student’s high school records
After weighing the pros and cons, the student and/or parent may decide that attending vocational or trade school is the way to go. Later on, if the student wishes to obtain a four year college degree, they will always have the option to do so.
As can be seen, there are several options after high school for those who wish to try something other than college after their graduation.
- Vocational Information Center – http://www.khake.com/ – An education directory that provides links to online resources for career exploration, technical education, workforce development, technical schools and related vocational learning resources.
- Choosing a Vocational School – https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0241-choosing-vocational-school from the U.S. – Federal Trade Commission
- Choosing the Right Career Training School – http://www.bbb.org/ – Better Business Bureau
- Career Colleges and Technical Schools – Choosing a School – http://www2.ed.gov/students/prep/college/consumerinfo/choosing.html – U.S. Department of Education
- Why Young People Shouldn’t Go to College (At Least Right Away) – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-resilience/201103/why-young-people-shouldn-t-go-college-least-right-away
- IntelliTec Colleges – https://www.intelliteccollege.com/
- College vs. Work – http://www.educationbug.org/a/college-vs-work.html
- Life After High School – http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/after-hs.html#
- Is There a Viable Alternative to College? – https://fee.org/articles/is-there-a-viable-alternative-to-college/
- What Americans Say It Takes to be Middle Class – http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/04/what-americans-say-it-takes-to-be-middle-class
- Major Decisions: What Graduates Earn Over Their Lifetimes – http://www.hamiltonproject.org/papers/major_decisions_what_graduates_earn_over_their_lifetimes/
- When College Grads Earn Like High School Grads – http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/09/08/college_graduate_vs_high_school_graduate_salaries.html
- Discover the Benefits of Trade School – http://www.natradeschools.edu/benefits-of-trade-school-maryland
- Top 3 Advantages of Attending a Trade School – http://www.examiner.com/article/top-3-advantages-of-attending-a-trade-school
- Another Option After High School: Trade/Vocational Schools and Career Colleges – https://www.quintcareers.com/vocational-school/