Trade school or college for Millennials and Generation Z? Devin Morrissey tackles the tough question and helps you weigh the options.
For Millennials and Generation Z, the world of post-high school education is completely different now than the previous generations have experienced. With the tonal shift in what a formal education means, a lot of people are carefully weighing the decision about how to plan for success in their future careers and financial livelihoods. Is it better to pursue trade school or college? In making that incredibly important decision, you have to ask: what makes sense financially and for the future?
Benefits of College
College has long been the traditional choice for furthering your education and securing a future in the field of your choice. In the last generation, a college education has changed in what it means and what it costs. So what’s the bottom line in a college education?
- High-income ceiling. While trade school gives you the ability to make a good, livable income quickly, a college education is what can help you attain the highest levels of success and income. Business schools, among other schools, can help students enter top-tier jobs.
- A college education might not mean what it used to, but it still carries plenty of prestige.
- There are more ways to get a college education than before. Online classes alone can help you work around your schedule or at your own pace.
- College is wildly more expensive than before. Millennials are paying roughly 218 times more than their parents did for college.
- Because college is more accessible, college degrees are more commonplace. As degrees become more ubiquitous, they mean less to potential employers. It might not provide the competitive edge it used to.
Benefits of Trade School
Trade school is one of the best alternatives to college. Trade school has many benefits that make it a competitive choice.
- Cost – trade school is an investment, but not nearly as much of one as a college education. Trade school costs start at a third of college tuition costs (not including housing, food fees or any other fees associated with college). It can be substantially less expensive.
- Trade school often takes less of a time investment than college. You can get your education and move into the job market sooner.
- Since trade school can be a shorter process, it gives you the ability to start making a livable income sooner. Trade school also gives you hands-on experience and usually certifications as well. A lot of trade schools have a career placement program as well.
- Smaller classes mean more one-on-one time with instructors, which can lead to a more thorough education.
- Trade schools can help you locate an employer. Many of them also offer guidance for the process, like preparing for job interviews.
- Upward movement is somewhat restricted. While there’s not a cap on pay made from a technical school education, you’ll always end up working your way up from this skill set. Trade school can get you a job as a medical assistant, for example, but you’d still need to go to college to become a doctor.
- Trade school students need to research their chosen school to make sure it’s the right fit: the school must be accredited, respected, and able to teach them the skills and certifications needed to succeed in their chosen field. Not all trade schools are created equal, and some can be downright scammy.
In the end, when you’re thinking about trade school or college, it’s all about what you want for your future and the best way to get there for you.
Devin Morrissey writes from his garage, where he occasionally takes breaks to fix his friends’ cars. He outlines his articles with his dog, Scrummy, who is the best soundboard a man could ask for. You can follow him on Twitter, if you want.