Why Trade School Is A Good Alternative To College

There was a time, not so long ago, when a high school diploma was all you needed in order to obtain a decent job. For several reasons, that standard has been raised. In modern America, a college education is now required for most entry-level positions. The only problem with that proviso is that higher education is no longer affordable for the masses.

College Costs

According to data from Bloomberg, a leading financial news company, the cost of a college degree in America has increased a whopping 1,120 percent in the past three decades. Now rising two and a half times faster than the rate of inflation, only about 10 percent of students can afford their tuition. The other 90 percent must take out student loans that saddle them with bills that can take years, even decades, to pay. At last count, the average college graduate left school with $28,000 of student debt. What’s the alternative?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many. Without a college education, many workers are doomed to a lifetime of low-wage employment. These positions offer little in the way of benefits or job security; not to mention that the stagnant wages that are a hallmark of these jobs often makes saving impossible. Even so, about 25 percent of Americans work these dead-end jobs. There is, however, one viable option many have not explored.

Why Trade School?

As incredible as it may sound, there are more than three million jobs openings in the skilled trades. According to employers, a good number of those high-paying positions cannot be filled because they can’t find qualified workers. Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, welders, and other tradesmen are in such high demand that their salaries are rising much faster than inflation. This is great news for the average high school grad who does not have the money or the desire to pursue a college degree.

The Benefits

Not everyone was meant to go to college. But, because parents and educators often push young people in that direction, many of them take classes just to avoid conflict. Not surprisingly, few of these reluctant students graduate. In fact, about 40 percent of all college and university students drop out before earning their degree. Most waste thousands of dollars on an education they will never use. If they had only been encouraged to attend trade school instead, things may have gone better for them for the following reasons:

Less Schooling

Because students are able to focus on a single subject or trade, instead of on a full course load, they can complete their training in only a year or two. They can then start working immediately without the extra years of education they would have needed at a four-year institution.

Less Expensive

Even an excellent trade school will only charge a fraction of the price of the average institution of higher learning. Expect to spend a bit more than you would on a new car, but not as much as you would on a new house, which is what you’d have to fork off if you pursued your four-year degree.

More Hands-On

Instead of learning theories and hypotheticals, aspiring tradesmen are prepared for the real world from day one. By the time they graduate, students have the training and experience they need to ply their respective trade.

For all of these reasons and more, trade school is a viable alternative to higher education for millions of Americans.

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It’s Your Own Damn Fault You Are Paying So Much for Your Education

OK, maybe it’s not all your fault. Colleges themselves have something to do with the high cost, but it’s definitely because of your choices. Are you one of those individuals who complain about the high cost of your college education? Are you a graduate that gets depressed every time you have to make a ridiculously high student loan payment? If so, could you have done things differently and still received an excellent higher education?

According to the College Board, the average total published charges for full-time undergraduate students by type for 2013-2014 are as follows: Public Four-Year-In-State $18,391; Public Four-Year-Out-of-State $31,707; Private Nonprofit Four-Year $40,917. According to another study released by the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), the average debt incurred for student loans had climbed to $29,400 for the class of 2012. The 2013 figure is up by almost 10 percent compared to the group estimate the year before of $26,600. This shows an increase of an average of six percent each year from 2008 to 2012. When students and parents are looking for someone to blame for the high cost of their college education, they should look first to themselves and reflect on what they could have done differently. Here are some things to consider.

1. You could have studied harder.

As colleges compete to attract the brightest students to their school, they are prepared to offer the best deals possible including a full ride. Many colleges will offer additional grants and scholarships to high school graduates with high GPA, SAT, ACT scores; these are called Merit-Base Scholarships.

2. You could have gotten more involved.

Most college athletes are attending school on an athletics scholarship, however if you are not athletically gifted there are many other extracurricular activities you could have gotten evolved in. Some colleges and universities offer special grants and scholarships to students with particular talents. Music, journalism, drama and volunteering are a few categories for which these awards are made. In addition to schools providing scholarships to students with special interests, community and government organizations do as well.

3. You could have fought for more free aid.

Just completing the FAFSA is not enough; nor is it the only step in applying for financial aid. One hundred and fifty billion in financial aid is awarded to college students each year and over one million scholarships. There are scholarships based on athletic ability, academic merit, disability, race, nationality, religious affiliation, location, financial need and more. With a little research and patience, you could have found a long list of scholarships for which you are eligible even within your own school and community.

4. You could have chosen a school and major that offered you the best financial aid incentives.

How did you choose the college you applied for? The one with the best reputation, prestige, because that where your friends and family attended or maybe because you like their football tea? Maybe you attended where your boyfriend/girlfriend is going. However, a more responsible way would have been to select the school that offered you the best financial aid package.

When it comes to choosing a major, there can be many factors to think about. Studies have shown that most people don’t work in the field that their degree is in; it would have been financially smart to have chosen a major with the best financial aid incentive. Scholarships and grants vary by major, so with a little research you could have found a college and career field that was in need of people to fill them and offer several financial incentives to those who pursue a major within those fields.

5. You could have stayed in-state and off-campus.

A state college or university charges lower fees to state residents. Since public institutions are subsidized by state revenues, their tuition costs are lower than private schools’ costs. Here are the facts: A student living at home can save as much as $6,000 per year. Some students choose to attend a community college for one or two years, and then transfer to a four-year school. Tuition costs are substantially lower at community colleges than at four-year institutions.

6. You could have served in the U.S. Military.

The military offers many educational benefits that service members can take advantage of during or after service. Service members have access to benefits that range from financial aid and college funds to programs that convert military training into college credits. Here are some of those programs: Tuition Assistance, Post-9/11 GI Bill, College Fund Programs, Loan Repayment Programs, Service Members Opportunity Colleges (SOC), Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), Testing Programs plus others.

7. You could have asked your employer and/or parent’s employer for help.

Many employers offer Employer Tuition Assistance Programs to their employees and their families. Your employer may offer you up to $5,250 in employer education assistance benefits for undergraduate or graduate courses tax-free each year, per section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code. Another smart strategy would have been to get a job working for a college because many colleges offer tuition-free education to their employees.

8. You could have been strategic with your FAFSA to maximize your awards.

Studies have shown that one out of every seven FAFSA forms are completed incorrectly causing students to leave money on the table. In addition, many students never question their financial aid awards. Here are a few things you could have done wrong: you waited too long to complete the FAFSA or worse you did not fill it out at all, you kept assets in the student name, you overstated assets and income, you didn’t update the financial aid office when circumstances changed.

9. You could have saved on those expensive books.

You could have rented or bought used textbooks, sold your old book and reinvested the money for the next set. You could have borrowed, traded or teamed up with classmates to share the books or the cost. Doing so would have saved you thousands yearly.

10. You could have kept your grades up.

Almost all college funding are tied into your grades, each time you withdrew or failed a class it may have cost you to retake plus kept you in school longer which also cost you. If you did not meet your school Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy you would have lost or been at risk of losing your Federal Student Aid plus any other scholarships, military benefits and even employer assistance benefits.

Education and Careers: The Paths We Choose

We all know that education prices are skyrocketing, and the return on investment (ROI) is not so clear. Degrees, they say, used to guarantee a job, and now jobs that used to only require a bachelor’s degree require a master’s, and so on. This means that the ROI has decreased, and that higher education is undergoing inflation. Technological changes, moreover, are eliminating midlevel service jobs.

According to a May 2011 report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, full-time workers with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, 84 percent more over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. If workers, then, with a bachelor’s degree are now filling jobs that those with only a high school diploma used to have, then living conditions and salaries for them are poor, and salaries for those without a degree are unlivable. In this situation, it is necessary to earn a higher degree, and yet, hard if not impossible to receive a decent ROI for the time and money spent.

In comes online education. Online higher degrees are becoming more credible and more common. And as if on a linear train of thought – in comes free online education, offered from top universities around the country (MOOCs). Moreover, the career opportunities that only a degree-in-hand allow are merging with online ed options: just a few weeks ago Georgia Tech announced that it was merging with Udacity to provide a reasonably-priced computer science program. In the totally unbalanced situation of higher than reasonable brick-and-mortar degree prices versus free online education, hybrid models are emerging as one way of answering to the issue for positive ROI outcomes.

ROI: What Does It Really Mean? OR Is Money What It’s All About?

According to government projections, by 2020, only three of the thirty fields with the largest projected job openings will require a bachelor’s degree or higher to fill the position: teachers, college professors, and accountants. Most of the available positions will be midlevel jobs not easily replaced by technology such as retail sales associates, fast food workers and truck drivers.

College graduates who majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities are now among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education level, while nursing, teaching, accounting, and computer science graduates are the most likely. Graduates with degrees in marketing, finance, human resources, and advertising are seeing an increase in career opportunities and therefore ROI.

‘While engineering and computer science consistently rate among the top-paying college majors, students should also research employment demand and hot skillsets,’ Andrea Porter, communications director at Georgetown’s CEW, said to USNews for a piece called ‘College Majors With the Best Return on Investment.’ “Research what skills are most valuable in the labor market… and depending on those ‘hot skills’ you can also obtain a certificate that will provide you skills that will set you apart,” she added.

Katie Bardaro, a lead economist at PayScale (an online salary database), contributed to the piece by stating that engineering, physics, computer science, and mathematics boast strong earning potential and low unemployment rates, which can help prospective employees reap the highest return on their education investment.

Many are concerned, because where there are jobs there isn’t enough talent and where there is talent, jobs are limited. And since ROI is usually only calculated by the maximum money one receives for their time spent in college, top-paying careers which are in-demand are listed as the top careers.

If you are cut out for the analytical work, these advisers say, then do it! For the money.

But what about for those who don’t necessary need the maximum paying career – those who see what they want to contribute and what they themselves are talented in as important first, and then wish to identify how to make a living? Is money the most important thing to all of us? When did economical ROI become the most important aspect of continuing one’s education? And the answer of course, is always for some, and for other’s: when this became a concern.

No, money is not the most important factor for all of us. “Teachers aren’t in it for the money,” for example, is a common expression of the profession. But money can help us get places. Money is necessary to survive. A decent paycheck, good working conditions, and fulfilling our dreams is the ideal for many of us.

If money was the only thing that mattered, then perhaps we would all heed the advice of the higher education advisers who say – enter computer science now! Perhaps it is not that we do not have the ability, talent or work ethic, but simply, that our interests lead us somewhere else. Some of us have our own visions to follow. What then?

Fulfilling Our Highest Visions

We have an economy that is based on creating revenue by selling things we don’t need cheap and making a profit vs. filling real world needs for humanity’s benefit. We are conditioned to want more money and certain things – often brands. There is too much competition in fields we don’t really need, and too many shady businesses and practices that take advantage of people. Imagine if we focused on the best and putting capable people into jobs that actually serve people, imagine if money didn’t matter the way it does for people and businesses of today. But it does because money is the most powerful thing in our world. Even knowledge doesn’t come close to the power money allows a person to yield.

Technology should make things easier on all of us, not take away a limited amount of jobs and further the economic gap between the wealthy and the poor, making only the hardest jobs that cannot easily be filled by technology what’s available to uneducated people. All people should be well-educated. All people have potential. Meaningless jobs should be filled by computers, and people should be encouraged and able pursue their dreams. Make the world a better place. Make themselves better. Make others better. And help the community.

Perhaps I am too partial to romanticizing education. I truly believe that it is one of the most powerful forces in the world; that knowledge, not money, should be the most powerful. However, true education, education of this magnitude, is not, I believe, about pushing out “job-ready” graduates with “hot skills” at the right time or moment to enter a certain market. I believe the true graduates are the ones who leave college having faced themselves, and the world around them, and are ready to enter it; that specific skills are as important as life-skills, self-confidence, and general intelligence. That these hot skills don’t in fact add up if graduates are looking at the job market to pick a career, rather than finding their career based on their innate talents and desired life, whether this means that they work in advertising, as a teacher, professor, fisherman, farmer, agriculturist, or politician. We must find our own path and therefore happiness instead of the world demanding, stealing, insisting it away from us.

So while education is a good and now an almost necessary cost in the vision of this country and our place in it, and while many things influence our futures in a numerical and calculated way – our parent’s education, our education, society’s demands, and media influences – we must insist on making our own dreams and happinesses real. ROI is not only about money gains, although it is often discussed in this matter. You are not a determined by the money you make.

Of course, we must have some kind of practical plan. We have to make it work. And following our happiness, indeed can take a lot of work. And many make their visions work by combining them with one of the strong in-demand fields such as in science, technology, education or business. If we love the outcome, then the work in the end means something. This, in my opinion, is what matters.

The College Education Conspiracy – What They Don’t Want You To Know

Do you believe in conspiracies? Perhaps you don’t think there is a massive UFO cover-up or that Big Foot is secretly being held in an underground bunker however, you do wonder about “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey might say. The rising cost of a college education has always been one of those topics where there seems to be more to the story.

Consider this quote from a college financial aid insider. “You go into massive amounts of debt just to get an education that you need as a prerequisite to get a job. Then you spend the rest of your life paying off that educational debt. There has got to be a better way.”

When I heard this statement it made me stop, think and question everything that I had experienced personally as a high school student approaching college admissions, as a student in college and now as a parent preparing to send my daughter to college.

Once Upon A Time…

It reads almost like a fairytale. We are taught form a very early age that if we desire to have a better quality of life than our parents, we must obtain a college degree. Try using Google to search the phrase “value of a college degree”. You would not be surprised to learn that most of the results are filled with charts and graphs that describe the earning “potential” of a college graduate compared with that of someone with only a high school diploma. It makes sense doesn’t it? In fact companies announce that to even qualify to work for them you must have at least an Associate’s Degree and most likely a Bachelor’s Degree.

Reality Sets In…

For those of us that are old enough to have experienced life 5 – 15 years after college we understand that the fairytale was only partly true. We were not told that while in most cases we do enjoy a better than income than our undereducated counterparts, we were not fully informed about the true cost of all of the student loan debt it took to fund that college education. We were also not told that while we did get our dream job, it was only after changing careers or industries multiple times. In fact, I wonder if as you read this now, you are currently employed in the field for which you received your college degree.

It Gets Worse…

What’s worse is if you attended a well-known expensive university only to find your self today, working at the same company, in the same position, with other people who attended less expensive schools. This would be bad enough if the story ends here but unfortunately it doesn’t. After all of this you would think that we would have learned from our mistakes but we have not. Without knowing it we now are preparing our children to make this high school to college transition no better prepared than we were.

Higher Education in India – Its Drawbacks and Suggestion For Reforms

Today the world is of science, new inventions and competitions to excel over the other. We can be proud to be a part of our great country but the world has shrunk today to a common platform on the basis of higher education and learning. Everybody has to be ready to receive and contribute towards new ideas, thoughts and systems. To gain the benefits of modern society and compete with the outside world, it is necessary that youth of our country get higher education. More and more avenues of higher education are provided to them at affordable prices and in all locations so that all round development in personality of the complete society takes place. Rather now it is the duty of each individual to ask for higher studies and be broadminded.

During the last few years, universities have increased manifold to impart higher education through various colleges all over the country. Liberal grants have been sanctioned by University Grants Commission. Many colleges have emerged in the private sector also to provide higher education. In different big cities and towns, massive infrastructure of buildings has come – up which is supposed to be the centre of higher learning. However, theses centres have started converting into hot beds of political intrigues. They were expected to radiate learning, discipline, sense of responsibility towards the nation, but they seem to be breathing violence, indiscipline, strikes, political groupism and even vandalism. The House of worship and learning has turned into the House of Satan. The youth is turning unpatriotic. The students take admission in these universities for the sake of just qualification instead of developing self-reliance, confidence and a sense of duty with planned career.

Now -a-days, we find that there is over-crowding in the classes of higher education also. The ratio of teachers as compared to pupils is very low and the teachers don’t have any personal feelings with the students. And thus higher education is examination ridden. Easy and shortcut methods are being adopted to achieve success. The students are getting fascinated to all things except books. The dependence on the Examinations only is the main cause of deterioration in our education system. No real or practical knowledge is gained by the students. There is a big gap between the practical life and education in colleges. Going to colleges seems to be a place of enjoyment in paradise for the students. However, their rosy dreams are shattered when they come out of colleges and enter the actual life. They have to return disappointed when they search for a service from door to door. It is due to purely technical education given to them.

The system of imparting higher education should be such that after completing education in college, the youth should not be dependent solely on service, but must be able to start some independent small scale industry or business on his own. Vocationalisation of education is the need of the hour. More and more technical and vocational institutions need to be started where training modules in practical aspects of career must be compulsory. Every effort should be made to inspire the students with noble and innovative ideas. It should be compulsory for students to appear in psychological tests. This will enable the students to choose subjects and careers of their own choice. In this way, the students can plan their careers from the very beginning. Just after their schooling, they would be able to decide the career which they wish or are interested in pursuing.

For more success in higher education, it is required that instead of lengthy examinations at a stretch, the due importance should be given to intelligence tests, personal interview and class room works at regular intervals. The development of clean character towards prosperity of nation is another important aim of higher education. The aspects of these higher studies must develop lessons of national integration as well as international integration and unity more effectively.

A great stress needs to be given for establishing good libraries in our colleges and universities. Students should be encouraged to make free use of them under the able guidance of teachers free of cost. More discussions and arguments on varied topics can impart more knowledge and information than more lecturing and completing the course. Equally important are the laboratories with latest equipments and items. To test the learning of books, students need to have good laboratories. An experiment is an unending quest of learning and knowledge on a permanent basis. The institutions providing higher education should be made temples of the modern age.