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Weighing the Options: Are Degrees From Trade Schools More Beneficial?

Whether high school students know it or not, they have an important decision to make after they put on that cap and gown. A decision that should be based on our country’s current economy and the direction it is going. Sure, future graduates have always wrestled with the decisions of whether or not to go to a four year university. Attending a two-year trade school or community college, joining the military or my favorite, just take the next year off have always seemed to be a back-up plan. However, the way our economic state is shaping the typical bachelor’s degree isn’t looking like such a great investment anymore.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, it costs on average over $85,000 to walk out of a four-year institution with a degree in hand- when counting room and board. Degrees such as journalism are becoming obsolete amidst the sea of bloggers and freelance writers, and most liberal arts majors usually become teachers- and we all know how much they get paid. With decreasing jobs, along with interest to add on to the $85,000 debt, a college graduates ROI isn’t looking as good as it once did. So is the solution to opt for a two-year trade school instead? Are trade schools in fact more beneficial in the job market than a B.A. degree?

The most attractive aspect of a two-year institution is, well, it’s only two years. Less time in college means less money you have to lend and the quicker you can get into that booming job market of ours (insert sarcasm here). Careers such as nursing, vet techs and culinary arts all pay decently and there is usually always a demand in their job market. Trade occupations are great for someone who has a passion in a particular field. If you love to cook you don’t need a college degree to figure out you should go to a two-year culinary arts school. Again, the best thing about a trade school is the thousands you don’t have to borrow from the bank. But trade schools are very specific. If you decide to get a two-year degree, you better be happy with your career choice because you’re pretty much stuck with it. Unless of course you go back to school, which means more money from your pocket.

Despite the debt, four year educations are more rounded and the job market can be more versatile for a B.A. graduate. There is no substitute for an education at a four year university. I should know, I’ve been to trade schools, community colleges and universities. The comprehensive education, autonomy to learn and the overall college experience cannot be matched by a trade school.

Ultimately, it comes down to you weighing your options and seeing what is better for you. If finance is an issue, maybe a trade school is something to look into. However, if no specific trade interests you, it may be more financially sound to attend a community college for two years, then transfer to a four year university. Although trade schools are cheaper and entry into the job market is quicker, universities give a more rounded education, allowing for further advancement. The choice is yours.

What do you think? Did you go to a trade school and find that it wasn’t for you? Did you have to go to a university after all? Or perhaps it was the other way around. Let us know in the comments or tweet me @ChrisOfficer.

IMAGE: Courtesy of NY Times

Chris Officer