Trade School Folks Aren’t No Dummies

Trade School Folks Aren't No Dummies- #unitecloudWith all this talk, this month, about college we can’t forget about our trade schools.  People talk about being a “college town” and instantly the SCSU logo pops to the front of most people’s brains.  It’s no secret. There is a division in this country.  Some might see it as a division and bias of labor- what we call blue collar vs white collar work. What I think hides a little more discretely is a bias of education.

In our society we often see a grand appreciation for the academia. We hold up and revere those that have put in years and years of study regardless of the degree. You see it in the job market where you can often find places refusing to hire those with Associate degrees that passed the same tests and license exams as their four year peers- as if the mandatory speech & humanities courses are a make or break of their capabilities. A thirst for education I think is admirable. However, in the same breath we condemn those who have chosen another course.

Despite great advances, our society still thinks in these terms: some work is respectable, important, and prestigious while other jobs are mundane, meaningless, even contemptible. Most often it is trade jobs or blue collar jobs that fall into the latter category. Repetitive or manual work is often seen as mindless and undistinguished and the people that complete these tasks are often viewed as uneducated. When someone says that they are going to a technical or vocational school there is a little voice in our head that assumes that they aren’t capable of more. This type of work isn’t seen as a valid choice, but rather a compromise.

I propose we change this ideal. Some of the diversity in our community is easy to see; it stares you in the face. Other kinds of diversity are more quiet. They live in our souls and speak to each of us of different passions, longings, and talents. Those are valid things. Besides our inner needs we all have physical needs, as well, that NEED this community diversity. We need clean water, safe roads, sanitation, electricity, shelter, etc. Without those willing to help us out every day with these needs where would we be?

Stepping away from the warm and fuzzy of it all, let’s just look at the practical. Trade schools have benefits that traditional 4-yr colleges just can’t compete with.

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First, let’s look at the finances:

 The average trade school degree costs $33,000, which, compared to a $127,000 bachelor’s degree, means a savings of $94,000. But that’s not all! If you assume that students are fully financing their education with loans at 4% over 10 years, the bachelor’s degree will cost $154,000, while the trade school degree will cost only $40,000. That’s a savings of $114,000 just on the degree.   -The Simple Dollar

Those aren’t the only numbers to consider. If you are attending a four-year university and you are living away from home, you will have to pay for on-campus housing or an apartment near the university.  Your living expenses over four years will quickly add up.

As The Simple Dollar also points out:

For many students, college is their first experience away from home and, without an adequate plan, it’s easy to stray off course. In fact, the Institute of Education Statistics estimates that 40% of attendees at a four-year college drop out before completing their degree. If you find yourself as a part of that 40%, not only have you incurred some of the expense of college, you left without receiving a degree. For the 60% that do complete their degree, a whopping 64% take longer than four years to graduate, costing themselves nearly $70,000 in lost wages and educational expenses per year, according to U.S. News. Most colleges don’t even require students to pick a major until the end of their sophomore year, creating a class of undecided students who may have wasted their time and credits on courses that they chose not to pursue.

Trade School Folks Aren't No Dummies- #unitecloudYet another benefit of trade schools is the opportunity to receive hands-on learning. Classroom lecture just isn’t the optimal way to learn for many folks. The ability to make learning hands-on not only increases their understanding and retention, but also increases their drive to learn. For others, work with one’s hands carries a satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that no desk job or book can provide.

When thinking about attending a trade school consider this, not only are you finishing school sooner, you are more likely to find a job in your field and making money sooner. Most trade schools offer certificates in high-demand career fields such as healthcare, business or computers. This job-specific training enables you to obtain a job quickly upon graduation. According to Forbes, skilled trade workers are a disproportionately older population, and will only continue to get older, creating increased opportunities for young workers to fill their shoes.

Trade School Folks Aren't No Dummies- #unitecloudAs technologies around the world improve and change new careers are popping up creating in-demand jobs that pay well. Take a look at the field of agricultural systems technology. All one has to do is sit inside a tractor or combine from 15 years ago then one from today to see how technology has changed the face of agriculture. As these machines advance a void is created and demand for service technicians creates in-demand jobs willing to pay strong wages. This is just one instance of high paying blue collar jobs.

So here is my proposal: Let’s put the snobbery aside and start seeing our trade school grads for what they are. Important, educated, distinguished members of our community- ones that might just make out ahead of you and your degrees in the end. Trade schools are a smart choice and far more than just a contingency plan.

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*This article is a guest post, written by a local member of our community.