Trade School Vs College: Which One Should You Choose? (Pros & Cons)

trade school vs college

In this article, we will be talking about how trade school vs college to see which one is best. There are many advantages to trade school as well as college. It all depends on what you want to do and what you want to study. You have to decide if a trade school or college is best for you.

Whether you’re a parent or a high school student, graduation is an exciting and scary time. You’re finishing up one round of schooling, transitioning into adulthood, and often saying goodbye to many of the faces and places you’ve known for your whole life. 

Graduating high school also means making plans for the future. There’s a lot of pressure to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life. You may not feel ready to make such a big choice, so you start researching. 

One of the biggest choices you have to make is trade school vs college. Depending on your family, location, and values, you may experience a lot of pressure one way or the other. But how can you make the best choice for you right now and for your future?

Trade School Vs College – How can I make the right choice?

There’s a lot to consider when you’re making a choice like going to trade school vs college. One of the most important things to remember is that this is a choice for you and your life. Don’t let anyone – friends, family, teachers, or the media – make you think you need to make one particular choice. 

Making a good choice for you means thinking about the pros and cons of each choice. For example, you may not be bothered by having student loan debt from college. Maybe trade school’s slow career growth isn’t an issue for you. Again, this is about your passions and values. What matters most to you?

You also need to think about what’s available to you. When it comes to choosing trade school vs college, there are different restraints on each. You might have financial concerns and need to apply for college grants or loans. You may live far away from trade schools and have travel and relocation to think about. 

Finally, you have to consider what you’d like to do for your career. If you’re unsure of what you’d like to do, there are two things to think about here. 

Purpose Diagram: All the pieces you need to find your career

You might already be familiar with a Purpose Venn Diagram, but here’s a refresher. This diagram helps you find the intersection of 4 key things. When you can find the point where all these things meet, you’ll have a career you’ll be happy with. When you know what career you’re interested in, the choice of trade school vs college should be obvious!

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What do you like to do?

Make three lists. One with all the things you love to do, one with all the things you don’t mind doing, and one with all the things you absolutely hate. 

What are you good at?

Now do the same thing here. Make a list of things you’re very talented at, things you can do well, and things you totally suck at. 

What can you make money doing?

Now, refer to those lists. You might find that something like playing the violin or running marathons is on your “love to do it” list and your “very talented” list. Those kinds of things are amazing hobbies, but neither are very stable careers. See if you can find some overlap between anything not on your “hate” and “suck at” lists.

What does the world need?

This step isn’t essential for everyone, but if you’re really passionate about making a difference, you’ll definitely want to think about it. Can you find something the world needs more of on your lists? Maybe you think the world needs more good doctors, more people who know how to fix things, or even just more good customer service. 

Once you find the answer to all of these questions, you have a great idea of what kinds of jobs will be a good fit for you. After that, deciding on trade school vs college should be a breeze!

Are you a “work to live” person or a “live to work” person?

There’s one more thing to consider here. Generally speaking, you’ll find two kinds of people when it comes to picking a career – “work to live” people and “live to work” people. Let’s look at some examples so you can get an idea of what these terms mean.

Let me introduce you to Dave. He is a “work to live” person. When he went to choose a career, he didn’t have any strong preferences. Dave loves fishing, woodworking, and he’s a huge history buff. His hobbies are very important to him, but it’s also important to him that they stay fun. 

When someone suggested that Dave seek out a career in woodworking, he was horrified. He likes woodworking, but would never want to do it all day every day. For him, doing it full-time with other people scrutinizing it for mistakes would take all the fun out of it. 

When Dave pondered the questions of trade school vs college, he chose college. He got his master’s degree in the most lucrative field he could find. Then he found a well-paying job that gives him plenty of time off. Basically, Dave doesn’t care what he does for work as long as it doesn’t interfere with his time off. 

Now, let me introduce you to Amy. She is a “live to work” person. She had a hard time staying in jobs for longer than about six months when she was in high school because if she didn’t love what she was doing, she couldn’t bring herself to stay.

When Amy needed to choose trade school vs college, she didn’t have to think too much about it. Without a lifelong project, Amy feels like she can’t even function. So Amy chose a career suited to her passions, something she could do all day, every day for the rest of her life. Amy needs to feel like her job really matters for her to be content. 

College – Career Readiness, Pros, and Cons

Now that you have a good idea of how to pick college vs trade school, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Pros of College: –

trade school vs college
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Career readiness

College graduates often have the interpersonal or “soft” skills that jobs are looking for. This, combined with the increasing number of jobs requiring a college degree, means that college and career readiness is a big pro. Career readiness is an important factor in choosing to go to trade school vs college.

Higher earning potential

On average, college graduates can make up to 3 times more than people without a college degree. Many specialized and executive positions require a degree, which contributes to the overall higher earning potential.

Job flexibility

Again, more and more jobs are requiring or requesting a 4-year degree. Many companies are even willing to hire someone without a relevant degree due to the soft skills that college provides.

Cons of College: –

trade school vs college
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American college graduates have a combined total of trillions of dollars in debt. Many of these people won’t pay off the debt within their lifetimes, making debt a big point against college.

Time spent not working

College is a full-time deal. Depending on your degree, you may even spend more than 40 hours a week on classes and homework. A 4- to 6- year degree is going to be a lot of time spent not working. Combined with the debt you’re taking on, this can be a big problem and should factor into your choice of college vs trade school.

No Guarantees

The job market is becoming increasingly competitive for college graduates. Many don’t end up in their preferred field, or even find themselves working a job that doesn’t require a degree just to make ends meet while they intern or interview for other positions. Going to college is definitely playing the long game, and depending on your chosen degree, getting a job at all can be a gamble.

Trade School – Pros, Cons, and what it really is?

Next, let’s take a look at trade school (also called vocational school). This kind of school helps you get the necessary experience and qualifications in one particular field very quickly.

Some people might think that trade schools are only for people who couldn’t “make it” in college, but that’s simply not true. Going to a trade school has nothing to do with how intelligent or studious you are, and everything to do with what kind of job you’d like to have someday. 

Don’t let other people’s poor perception of your education choice be the deciding factor when choosing between college vs trade school.

Pros of Trade School: –

college vs trade school
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Trade schools are often much more inexpensive than colleges. Additionally, many trade schools have financial aid. Depending on your field, you could pay off your trade school debt in just a couple of years, compared to the decades college graduates could be looking at. 

Less Competition

Overall, jobs that you learn in trade school are less competitive than jobs that require a college degree. Since fewer people choose trade schools, there’s more demand for good workers who have completed trade school education. 

Versatile fields of work

Trade schools include a wide variety of professions. From air traffic controllers to woodworking and HVAC, you might be surprised at the number of jobs you can go to trade school for! The versatility of trade schools is something to consider when choosing to go to trade school vs college.

Cons of Trade School: –

college vs trade school
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Little upward mobility

While you may find it easy to get a job straight out of trade school, getting promoted is a different story. Many managerial positions require a college degree, which is something to consider when debating trade school vs college.

Limited availability

While there are many colleges out there, there are significantly fewer trade schools. This means that you may need to travel or wait longer to be admitted to a trade school.

Messy or dangerous work

Some trade school jobs can be hazardous to your health. If you’re someone who doesn’t like getting your hands dirty or who doesn’t want to worry about needing time off for an injury, you’ll have to pick your trade school carefully.

Trade School Vs College – Find the best fit for you

There’s no doubt about it, your late teens and early twenties are a very exciting time. No matter what you choose, the key thing to remember is that nothing is set in stone. Your future is as flexible as you want it to be! 

When deciding on a trade school vs a college, know that you can pick both. Many people start at college and then leave to go to a trade school. Other people start at a trade school so they can work their way through college part-time. 

No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end job, and the sooner you set yourself up for success, the less chance you’ll be struggling through a job you hate. Setting yourself up for success has many parts, but starts with making one big choice – trade school vs college.

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