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Opinion

Explore Your Life Path

By Sanjana Butala, staff writer

High school is over, now what? Here comes the long-debated topic on the choice
about whether to take up college, dive into the workforce or opt for trade school.
Many students struggle with this choice, and they all have their reasons for their
individual perspectives. However, what choice is best for you, and how do you
make this vital decision? Should it be based on what your friends are doing or what
your parents said? No. Do your research and make an informed decision by
understanding the pros and cons of every path.

Young adults choose to work instead of completing their college education for
several reasons. Often, this decision stems from a lack of finances. College
education is indeed expensive, and even if they get a full ride scholarship, students
still have to bear living expenses. Not everyone can afford a higher education.
College debt is a huge paranoia among students and a huge monetary responsibility
that not everyone is willing to take. Working after high school not only saves the
money they may spend on college, but it also helps them generate additional
revenue to secure their futures. In today’s world, a college degree is not any more a
guarantee of receiving a job than a high school diploma. By starting right out of
high school, they have the security of a steady job and chances of growth earlier in
their life. In addition, entering the workplace helps garner professional expertise in
the long run. Such people may end up having a better experience and reputation in
the field than a newcomer having a college education. Students may prioritize
earning money and investing it rightfully over spending it on a college education.
Moreover, some parents expect students to be financially independent after high
school and refuse to support future expenses. In such situations, students may find
it difficult to bear the burden of college. Sometimes, students themselves may
desire financial independence the day they leave high school. In other cases,
certain young adults may choose to take such a path having gotten tired of
schooling.
Another common reason for skipping college could be the confusion over choosing
a career. Students are often confused about what majors they should pursue and are
not determined on what career may suit them. Working a full-time job in different
fields may help them decide what exactly they want to do in their future. Such
people leave school with the intention of gaining experience and returning to
college to complete their education. However, once a person ends up in a working
career, he or she may no longer wish to give up his or her job. Seeing college
expenses eat up most paychecks in your bank account can be a change not
everyone is ready to take. Once you begin to earn money, you no longer want to
spend as much.

People may also keep putting off their schooling in the fear that they will have to
deal with books, examinations and memorization. During the later years of their
life, students may have families to look after and more important responsibilities to
take care of. This makes the decision to resume college even more difficult. Age
barriers between new high school students and students returning to college after
years of work can embarrass the latter, discouraging them from taking up their
education. College debt may still overpower such people, and paying it off in the
later half of their lives can be a challenging task. College education needs time and
effort, which can make devoting to a job difficult. All these drawbacks often
discourage students from returning to a college education and make them second
guess their choices. In the end, it is for them to decide if college is really worth the
effort.

Higher education costs are one of the highest in the nation, but people still continue
to invest in these expenses with the hope of a better future. College prices continue
to touch the skies, but the advantages of having a college degree make the expense
worth it. One of the best returns of investing in a good quality college education is
the high possibility of increased salaries and ability to make more money. Students
with a college degree go on to earn a lot more than students with only a high
school diploma. Students with a college education are preferred by employers,
which increase their chances of getting a job. Higher education offers the promise
of employment, and that is what drives most people to invest in a degree. In
addition, jobs that need a college education usually come with greater benefits,
including retirement plans, health insurance and several other attractive perks,
available only to those having access to this education.
College education is definitely a worthwhile down payment for a financially stable
future to lock down a student’s success. However, what cannot be overlooked are
the intangible skills that college education teaches a student. The time students
spend at college also shapes their overall personality and improves their time
management and organizational skills. It provides an excellent opportunity for
students to network and build connections at an early stage in life. These skills
prove to be very useful in getting jobs and sustaining in their respective
workplaces. While in college, students often major in subjects they are passionate
about. After college, these students tend to work in a similar field, which
contributes to job satisfaction and contentment. When such students become
parents, their children have better access to opportunities, healthcare and higher
standard of living, and they encourage their children to earn a college education.
Such students end up passing on these benefits to their posterity, developing their
families and affecting several generations ahead of them and promising them a
better future.

Technical trade schools have an advantage over college education in terms of time.
The average trade school degree is about two years while a bachelor’s degree is
about four years. This is mainly because college education often comprises general
education classes that are not completely related to the major. This is unlike classes
in trade school that are very focused on the career field. In addition, the cost of a
trade school education is much less than a college education and seems to be a
more affordable option. However, in terms of pay, trade school graduates lack
behind and have much less earning potential than college graduates. College
graduates can go on to pursue a masters or postgraduate degree and earn even
more. In contrast, trade school graduates do not have as many opportunities to
boost their education. With an increase in labour jobs moving towards less
developed countries, employment opportunities have reduced in some sectors of
technical trades. Job security for these graduates has hence decreased in
comparison to college graduates.
Furthermore, trade jobs do not offer the same promises and perks as the jobs that
college graduates are eligible for. The jobs that trade school graduates take up are
often laborious jobs that need a lot more effort and hard work. These jobs are not
always white collar jobs and reputable. The skills that college students garner
through their four-year education are much more valuable and varied than the ones
students learn in trade school. Additionally, the impact of college education
surpasses the student’s own life and positively influences his family and further
generations. Trade school graduates cannot give the same facilities to their
children, and the trend of graduating from a vocational school may continue in
their families. In conclusion, the investment for trade school may be lesser than
college education, but so is the return.

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