College Isn't the Only Option

November 21, 2017
By , Columbia Falls, MT

So much pressure is put on high school graduates to go to college. There is an air around it that if you don’t go then you’re lazy and a failure, but that’s not true. College isn’t the only option. Many graduates believe that college is the only path to a happy life, but there are many other ways to attain one. Some alternative options include trade school, community college, and joining the military. College is not the only way to go and there are many other ways of creating a successful path for oneself.


Firstly, an alternative to college could be starting an apprentice job right out of high school or going to a trade school for one. The article Trade School Might Be a Better Choice Than College. Here's Why states, “...a bachelor's degree typically takes four years of study, which means that people who enter the workforce after receiving their bachelor's degree aren't doing so until age 22” (Hamm). This demonstrates how one can get a head start on their life by going to trade school because they’re starting their job sooner. Many college graduates don’t have much money and graduate with a large amount of student loans. Trade school courses could be as little as a few months, so all that saved time means more experience and more saved money. As another example, according to Robert Reich, the author of the article Why College Isn’t (And Shouldn’t Have to Be) For Everyone, “Germany - whose median wage (after taxes and transfers) is higher than ours -- gives many of its young people world-class technical skills that have made Germany a world leader in fields such as precision manufacturing” (Reich). This shows how one doesn’t need to go to college for four years to make a substantial amount of money. This is not some special case, like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, this is the average. The U.S. could be making progress climbing the ladder up to the top if individuals give students more options instead or forcing them into a program that could affect their life for years to come. As a final example, “... 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 these students are fully financing their education with loans at 4% over ten 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” (Hamm). This illustrates how trade school costs significantly less than a traditional college. This leaves the graduate with more money in their adult life to pay bills, support a family, or follow their dreams. In conclusion, trade school can make money, save money, and can help the economy if encouraged more.
Another great way to establish a successful life for oneself is going to a community college. The article Advantages of Attending A Community College by the Texas Southmost College informs, “Community colleges offer students the option to specialize in a field and enter the workforce after completing a degree in just one or two years” (Advantages of Attending A Community College). This exemplifies how community college can speed up the process of transferring from post high school schooling into the real-world with a career. Many colleges have connections from around the community to provide jobs for recent graduates. As another example, “Universities may have classes as large as 300-400 students, while community college average class sizes range from 25-35 students. These small class sizes at community colleges provide an atmosphere in which you can easily ask questions and talk to your instructors and classmates, not only to help you grasp concepts but also build relationships” (Advantages of Attending A Community College). This provides kids with more in depth teaching and more chances to work with classmates. This promotes teamwork and helps students feel more comfortable asking questions, rather than in a huge college class where kids may be shy or feel as if their voice doesn’t matter. As a final example, “Many junior colleges cost less than two thousand dollars each semester to attend full time” (The Pros & Cons of Community Colleges). This is very cheap saving kids money for living on their own and buying food. Many colleges can leave students in debt when into their middle age years. This provides high school graduates with a more money friendly choice, and a lot of high schools can get a head start by taking classes at their local community college. To sum, community college can be a very healthy learning environment with great job opportunity and be money friendly.


Finally, a very noble and honorable choice is joining the military. Should I Join the Military? 11 Reasons the Military is a Good Career Option explains, “The US has experienced a difficult economy over the last few years, including high levels of unemployment, rising costs, and the outsourcing of many jobs. If you are looking for employment, consider the military” (Should I Join the Military? 11 Reasons the Military is a Good Career Option). Joining the military will give a steady job that is doing work beyond oneself. In a world where jobs can be few and far between, the military is a guaranteed steady job as long as one does as they’re told and work hard to help this country. To demonstrate, “An officer with 20 years of service, who earns over $100,000 per year, could retire with a pension of over $48,000 per year for life in his or her 40’s and start a second career” (Should I Join the Military? 11 Reasons the Military is a Good Career Option). The financial benefit is enormous. If an individual chooses to stay in the military for more than 20 years, they can be paid well into their years after the military. Veterans can have a secondary job after their services and still be paid for their precious job, making a lot of money. Military states, “As a reserve or guard member, you may be eligible for either full-coverage or partial-coverage depending on the type of unit you are assigned to” (Military). In the military, soldiers can save money by having their insurance covered. Almost no other jobs fully cover insurance, so this is very beneficial. Their whole family can be taken care of as well. College will just cost money most don’t have. To conclude, the military offers a steady job with insurance and pays after service.


Some may say that college is the best and most effective choice after high school. But studies show, “... only 40 percent of Americans felt that colleges provided an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ value for their money” (Rotherham). Others may say if you don’t go to college, you’ll more than likely be unemployed. However, “The overall unemployment rate for people with occupational two-year degrees was 4 percent in April…” (Leonhardt). Finally, many say when you go to college, you have the ability to get the career you want for the rest of your life. Contrariwise,  “In 2010, only 62 percent of U.S. college graduates had a job that required a college degree. Second, the authors estimated that just 27 percent of college grads had a job that was closely related to their major” (Plumer).


In conclusion, trade school, community college, and the military can provide a strong amount of money and a successful life as an alternative to college. If an individual knows college isn't meant for them, they have other options.






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