The average cost of attending a university and getting a four-year degree has been increasing steadily over the past few decades. According to the College Board, the average yearly cost to attend a private university has grown to $32,000 a year, and the cost to attend a public university as a state resident has risen to just under $10,000 dollars per year. Even here at TU it is painfully apparent that our tuition goes up on a yearly basis.
Students pay anywhere from $40,000 to $130,000 for an education that doesn’t even guarantee them a job at the end of their college tenure. Not being immediately hired out of college can be disastrous if the student has any student loan debts. Being thousands of dollars in debt with no job doesn’t really lend itself to the idea of success that is associated with graduating from a four-year university.
It seems like some people cling to the idea that for someone to be successful, they need to attend a reputable university and get a four-year degree. This simply isn’t the best option for everyone. Some people don’t thrive in a classroom environment. Others may not be able to afford to put themselves in so much debt. Due to these hindrances and others, getting a degree from a four-year university is not always the wisest option in terms of future life and financial stability.
There is, however, an alternative to attending a university that is much more affordable and almost guarantees job placement after the completion of the program: two-year technical and vocational schools. These schools cost a fraction of the price of attending a four-year university, with average yearly tuition being just over $2000. Students learn hands-on skills that will be directly applicable to the field in which they have chosen to enter. For example, if you enter a program to become an electrician, you will be tested on your ability to install actual light fixtures and transformers on a model house.
Companies that employ skilled workers know that if a student completes these programs they will be more than qualified to enter the field because their coursework specifically covers it. It is not uncommon for students at technical schools to be offered jobs even before they graduate.
And these aren’t meager, bottom-rung jobs. The average starting salary of a trade school graduate is around $42,000 (in comparison to around $27,000 for university graduates), and there is also a great deal of upward mobility within these positions.
This begs the question: why are trade schools considered a step down when they obviously provide students with just as many opportunities as universities? The answer is that most young Americans are instilled with the idea that their success is quantified through their academic achievements. They feel the need to go to the most reputable four-year university they can regardless of any extraneous factors, such as the cost of tuition or the job market in that area. More and more students are attending universities every year, and the labor pool is becoming saturated with workers with degrees from four-year schools. Because of this, it is becoming increasingly hard for graduates to find jobs.
Contrary to this, the demand for skilled workers who have graduated from trade schools is as high as ever. Almost one hundred percent of trade school graduates are finding jobs either before or soon after they complete their coursework. Skilled trade workers are an essential part of the American labor force, and their starting salaries and hire-rates reflect this.
This shows that there is no discrepancy in success between graduates of a four-year university and graduates of a two-year technical school. The only discrepancy lies in the twisted ideology imparted on young people that says the only road to success passes through a university. This misconception has the potential to deter young people from going down a career path that is not only affordable and practical, but that could also provide them with the opportunity to be successful.