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College Vs. Trade School: Which One is Right for Me? 🤷

During high school, you may start contemplating the options that lie ahead: college, trade school, taking time off, entering the workforce, and the like. It’s a time when decisions are made, and those decisions can impact you throughout life. One of the biggest questions you may ask yourself is: is college right for me? 


High school students are often given information on one track of continuing their education – college. But for those interested in careers outside of a typical college education, where does that leave you? There is an alternative option for continuing education: trade school. 


In this blog post, we will break down the differences between college and trade school and provide you with the facts for decision-making. We’ll review: 


  • What college is and what trade school Is

  • How much college and trade school cost

  • The average time to complete a program for each

  • Pros and Cons of college and trade school 


What is College? 🎓


College is an educational institution you can attend after graduating from high school. It offers advanced education and training in various fields that lead to different types of degrees, such as associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.


How Much Does College Cost? 💰


The average cost of college across the entire United States amounts to $38,270 per year, including books, supplies, and daily living expenses. 


While this number may seem intimidating initially, it can be reduced through scholarships, savings, different living arrangements, work-study programs, grants, and more.


How Long Does College Take? ⏰


Each degree has its own time frame. Various factors play into the timeline of achieving these degrees, including internal and external components. General estimates for each degree are: 


Associate’s Degree: 2 years or four semesters

Bachelor’s Degree: 4 years, or 16 semesters

Master’s Degree: 6 years

Doctoral Degree: 9+ years


What Are the Pros and Cons of College? ✔️

Pros of College

Cons of College

Higher earning potential. An individual with a bachelor’s degree has the potential to make $27,300 more per year than a high school grad.

Cost. A college education can come with a high ticket price. While there are ways to reduce the cost, there is no guarantee, and you can often graduate with high debts.

Networking. College can be excellent for building a professional platform, especially when participating in extra-curricular activities. 

Lengthy Education. Degrees can take longer than estimated to complete, leading to higher costs and prolonged time before entering the workforce. 

Access to more jobs. While the number of jobs requiring a college degree has decreased in recent years, several still require one, and your dream career may be one of them. 

Potential to not finish. Approximately 40% of U.S. college students drop out before finishing their degree. This could leave you with debt, stress, and missed time in the workforce.

What is Trade School? 🛠️


A trade school is any post-secondary educational institution that offers training for a handful of specific jobs.


Students can learn the skills needed for their chosen career path, such as welding, cosmetology, computer repair, or electrical work. Trade schools focus on training and preparing students to enter the workforce in a skilled trade. 


How Much Does Trade School Cost? 💸


The cost of trade school varies. Average tuition fees range from about $3,863 to $15,549 per year, depending on program choice, location, length of education, and other factors. 


How Long Does Trade School Take?


Each trade school program has its own time frame, and various factors influence these timelines. A general estimate across all grade school programs is between eight months and two years


What Are the Pros and Cons of Trade School?


Pros of Trade School

Cons of Trade School

Faster Education. Trade school takes less time than an average college education, saving time and money.

Limited Programs. Trade school only offers education for specific career paths, limiting your options.

Reliable Job Industry. Many trade school fields, such as HVAC or plumbing, resist economic fluctuations that impact most industries.

Lack of financial assistance. While opportunities for financial aid for trade schools have increased, the opportunities are still far less than in college.

Hands-on Experience. In trade school, you will receive hands-on experience and learn valuable skills for your career. 

Potential for lower career growth. In some fields, your potential for career growth may be limited compared to those with a college degree. 

What Else Should I Consider When Deciding Between Trade School and College? 🤔 


Ultimately, you should consider you. If you have had your heart set on being a doctor, then college is your best route. If you want to learn more about contract work, trade school is for you. The one thing to be sure of here is that you’re considerate of the following: 


  • The Pros and Cons of Both

  • The Cost

  • What You Want (not what anyone else in your life wants for you)


Once you weigh these factors, you can make an educated decision and get started on applications! 


No matter your path, Celebrating One is here to cheer you on at the end of one journey and the start of the next! Learn more about our mission and our No Grad Left Behind program. 


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1 commentaire


The article makes very good points. I hope more will consider trade school. I'd like to add my perspective on the correlation between college and earnings. Those who attend college are, on average, more intelligent and motivated than those who do not, and they generally have more support from their families and communities. I believe these pre-existing differences contribute to success far more than college degrees. In other words, in preferencing college people are largely confusing correlation with causation. Likewise, earnings differences between high school grads and dropouts are not because of the diploma. That said, college can be a very good investment, particularly if the education gives one a skill of value to the community. The same goes for…

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