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How important is having a College Degree in the real world, or is work experience more important?

I plan on attending college, however I don’t want to deal with having college debt. Would going to a trade school or getting into the workforce early be better instead of attending a 4 year University? #college-bound #tradeschool #college-advice #college #debt

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Simona’s Answer


Hi Seth,
That choice depends on many variables. What is your passion: to work with your hands or to work in an office setting? What will the job sector look like in your area for both sets of careers? Are you more excited about one area over another? There are pros and cons to both but you will be performing this work for decades and must enjoy what you do. Below are some pros and cons. I have also added the link to the full article below. It would help to read this, and more articles, to fully understand what you want to do before making a decision. Also know that no decision is final. You may go the route of the trade school and then attend higher education later in your career. Just know that you will have options open to you.

Traditional College
There are several options for traditional college education, including community colleges and public or private universities. Once you have enrolled in college, you will typically spend the first half of your degree program taking general education courses. While the specific classes you take will vary based upon your degree program, they often include the following:
• English Composition and Literature
• General Science
• History
• Mathematics
These classes set you up for success within a wide range of majors, and allow students flexibility over the first year or two of their degree program to make a decision in the specific degree they want to pursue.
Trade schools differ from traditional colleges in a number of ways, including:
• Job-specific educational format
• Skill-based learning
• Lower cost of tuition
• Less time to complete the program than traditional degrees
• Specialized career offerings
Once you enroll in a trade school, you will immediately start with classes that are based solely on the training needed to help you succeed in your future career. While traditional colleges begin with one to two years of general education classes, these types of courses are not part of a trade school program.
So, how does this effect your education?
Simply put, without the background in general education classes within a degree program, you will be trained only in the career path you are pursing.
If you are interested in a specific career path, there are many different programs available through trade school that can get you started in a well-paying career without a traditional degree. These popular programs include, but are not limited to, cosmetology, electrical technician, plumbing, automobile technician, welding, and carpentry.
http://mycollegeguide.org/blog/2016/08/trade-school-vs-college/
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Rachel’s Answer

The importance of college is highly based on the career you choose to pursue. Some careers absolutely require a degree. Most jobs in healthcare require some sort of post-high school education. Whether you choose to pursue a career as a physician, nurse, PT/OT, physician's assistant, you will need to attend both classes and on the job training after high school.
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Simeon’s Answer

If you don't have a clear goal for what you'd do with a college degree, trade school is a great option. Getting a college degree is necessary for many jobs, but it also isn't a guarantee that you'll be able to get a job if you do get one. Getting a job in a trade related field is much more straightforward.
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Richard’s Answer

Going to college increases your career prospects. Your life time earnings will increase. You will have more choices of career.

However in certain circumstances it is better to attend a trade school. If you know what you want to do and it doesn't require a college degree, then it doesn't make sense to go in to debt and pay for an expensive
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Lynette’s Answer

Education is expensive, but, it is likely the most important investment you will ever make in your future. You'll spend most of your life pursuing a career, and earning an income, so that you can take care of yourself and your family, at a level that makes you feel happy and satisfied with life. So, don't let the cost of college make all your decisions for you.


First decide what it is you think you might want to do. What type of career will be a good fit for your interests, personality, and talents? Then, figure out what level of education is required, in order to get there. Then, figure out a way to cover the costs.


If there's a specific trade job that interests you, then a Trade School program will be a much quicker, less costly means to that end. Plus, you'll get a much more specialized education, geared towards that specific trade.


If you aren't sure what type of career is best for you, start asking adults you know, what they like/dislike about their jobs. Ask if you can "shadow" an adult who has a job that interests you. Seeing what a typical "day in the life" looks like, can help you decide if it's the right fit for you. Take some free online courses, webinars or listen to podcasts that cover a wide range of topics from various career fields to learn more about what topics might be of interest to you. Are your favorite podcasts all about rockets and space travel? Maybe you’d enjoy a career in rocket science or aeronautical engineering. Online job sites like Glassdoor and Linkedin can give you ideas for jobs and likely salary ranges, too. Personality tests like Myers-Briggs can help you narrow down your choices to the careers that will most likely suit your personality type. Your guidance counselor at school should be able to point you to more resources, too.


If it turns out that a professional or scientific job would be a better fit for you, then a four-year college program is going to be your best path. A degree from a four-year college will give you more options across many professional and scientific fields, and most jobs in these fields will require a college degree, at a minimum. The good news is, many professional careers can and will, eventually, give you a positive return on your investment, due to a higher salary potential.


Now, how do you afford it? There are many ways to make a four-year degree more affordable. Here are a few ideas (excerpted from a response I wrote to another young person who, like you, is worried about the cost of college):

1. Apply for scholarships and grants. There are countless scholarship options, out there. Do a little research. Check your church, local government, even your parents’ employer may have scholarships you can qualify for. The electricity co-op in my community even provides scholarships for college students, each year. Get involved in some extra-curricular activities where you can show off your skills, talents, and leadership potential. This will help you get noticed for scholarships and grant money.

2. Apply for financial aid. This can offset much of the expense, and even provide payment and financing options that are favorable to students/parents’ specific needs. Your guidance counselor at school should be able to help you come up with a plan. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from reliable adults who may have experience with finances, and a credit history to help you secure loans.

3. Work part-time to help defray some of your expenses. Lots of jobs offer evening and weekend shifts, and you can make some income during the summers, too. Some career fields even offer paid internships for students, during summer break. These can help you earn a little income, plus give you experience, and potentially a “foot in the door”, too. Make a good impression, and they might just offer you a job, when you graduate!

4. Attend a community college for the basic classes, and then transfer to a university program, later. Tuition at a community college is generally cheaper, so you can minimize your cost, this way. You might also save on room and board, if your parents are willing to let you stay at home, while you attend community college.

5. Join up with a roommate, or a group of friends to share rent and living costs, both during school, and immediately afterwards. It may take you a few years, post-college, to pay off your student loans. So, splitting your living expenses with roommates can make life more affordable, until your salary picks up.


Whatever level of education you choose, it can turn out to be a positive investment that will pay off in the long run, both in terms of salary and job satisfaction. So, weigh your decisions carefully and invest wisely. Good luck!

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