Should College Be Free Pros Cons And Alternatives
It’s a question that might be more relevant today than ever before: Should college be free in America? Many people have very passionate opinions on the matter. Maybe you’re one of them. But this question deserves a lot more than a simple yes or no answer. It deserves an open mind and a balanced exploration of the potential benefits, drawbacks, and alternatives.
After all, America’s future is at stake. And nearly everyone agrees that education is one of the biggest factors that will determine the nation’s fate going forward. So we have to get it right. Although some people might feel that the current system of higher education and vocational training is working well, many other people believe that it needs at least a little bit of improvement in one way or another.
College affordability is often among the top concerns. When the cost of attending college, university, or trade school is too high, a lot of students simply choose not to pursue a higher education. And that leaves many of them ill-equipped to find good employment, let alone attain the American dream. But high costs also leave some college graduates with levels of debt that hamper their abilities to attain at least a middle-class lifestyle.
So, should college be free? Is that even possible? Keep reading, and decide for yourself.
High Cost Of A Bachelors Degree
Another drawback is the cost. Research conducted by the Idaho Department of Labor found that the average bachelors degree in the United States costs $127,000! Not only that, but nearly 70% of students take out loans to help pay for school. According to the study, over 20% of students with loans owe more than $50,000, and 5.6% owe more than $100,000 at the end. Although some student loans are certainly better than others, the added cost of accruing interest makes the overall expense of receiving an education in the U.S. significantly higher for the average student than the already steep price tag suggests. The college lifestyle isnt cheap either dorming, paying for food, going out, and even doing your own laundry adds up!
Are There Better Alternatives
Maybe some kind of middle ground exists. Maybe making public colleges free for everyone isn’t the best way to solve the affordability problem. At least, that’s what some people believe. They point out that other options have been shown to work well and that those options might be a lot less expensive for American taxpayers.
For example, consider the possibility of an income-based repayment system. For some former college students in the U.S., that is already a reality. They are able to have the repayment of their student loans tied to a small percentage of their incomes. And if they earn below a certain threshold, then they don’t have to make any payments. After 20 to 25 years, whatever is left on their loans is written off, as long as they have consistently kept up with all of the payments that were due. The problem, currently, is that this option is only available to low-income people who can prove that they are experiencing financial hardship.
But what if loans with income-based repayment were available to every student? You would be able to attend college, university, or trade school without having to pay for tuition while enrolled. Then, after you left school, you would only have to pay an affordable percentage of what you earned . The more money you earned, the quicker you would pay off the loan. And if your income stayed low, you would have the peace of mind of knowing that your loan obligations would eventually expire.
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Average Trade Job Salaries
While the average salaries for degree-based careers typically exceed those for trade-based careers, some trade school graduates earn much higher wages than people might expect. After acquiring specialized training, tradespeople can improve their earnings with experience, especially when working in niche fields.
Location can also influence trade job salaries, as some states and regions offer higher-than-average wages due to demand, state requirements, and cost of living. In general, areas with high population densities pay more than rural areas, but students should still research salaries in their local region before committing to a trade program and new career.
As an example, electricians earn more on the East Coast and West Coast than they do in the central states. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , electricians make an overall annual mean salary of $60,370, but they earn $70,000 in California, $75,000 in Oregon, and $79,000 in New York.
Data in the dental hygiene field is similar. According to the BLS, the West Coast pays considerably higher rates for dental hygienists than the national median of $76,000. For example, Washington pays $93,000 per year; California pays $106,000; and Alaska pays $115,000.
If The Trade School Is Eligible For Federal Student Aid Apply For It As You Would For A Traditional College
Get started by filling out the FAFSA . The information you provide qualifies your student for need-based funding and determines eligibility for federal grants and loans. And, if the trade school is eligible for federal student aid, you are also eligible to use money from a 529 college savings plan to pay for tuition and fees, books, and other expenses.
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Pros And Cons Of Tradeschools
Trade schoolsare an obvious choice for many students who do not have the means for atraditional education from a college or university. Just like otherconventional higher education institutions, trade schools offer various pathsfor a successful and promising future.
Most of themoffer certificates and diplomas to students straight out of high school orworking adults looking for opportunities to upgrade their skills and getcertified for their respective fields. These fields include but are not limitedto carpentry, graphic design, healthcare, culinary arts, and cosmetology.
Throughattending trade schools, students are equipped with the necessary knowledge andskills they needed for their chosen jobs.
Trade schoolshave both benefits and disadvantages for many students:
PROS OF ATTENDING TRADE SCHOOLS
Relevant, Career-Focused Skills
In tradeschools, students are taught practical skills that relate directly to theirchosen field of interest. Apart from the classroom lectures, which areconsiderably less, they are provided with ample hands-on training. Most ofthese training opportunities take place in settings that are similar to theworkplace.
Trade schoolshave little general education course requirements and, in most cases, none atall. Furthermore, students are also given limited opportunities for jobplacements after they graduate. Many employers look for individuals who havegained specialized knowledge from trade schools to bridge the employment gap.
Consider Living On Campus At Your Target School
Being the new kid on campus can be intimidating, especially when you’re joining a group that has already spent two years together. It can be much easier to integrate into your new academic community if you live in the dorm rather than in an off-campus apartment. Extracurricular activities will be more accessible and you will have more opportunities to bond with fellow students.
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Do I Need A Degree To Make A Good Living
Statistics show that the higher the degree you have, the higher your earning potential will be. While thats generally true, there are trade school graduates who make considerably more money than those with bachelors degrees.
For example, according to the BLS, the median salary for Mental Health Counselors with a bachelors degree is $46,240. But a Dental Hygienist who went to trade school earns a median salary of $76,220 almost $30,000 more!
How much you earn really depends on your field and years of experience, not just your education. You can make a very good living with a trade school or college education.
What’s The Best Way Forward For Students Right Now
Like other students, you might have a lot of options available to you. But the longer you wait to begin your post-secondary education, the more opportunities you may be missing out on. So even though “Should college be free?” is a question worth debating, the best action to take right now is probably to investigate the many helpful possibilities that already exist.
Why not check out some of the career-driven programs in your area just to see how you might benefit from them? Generate a list of nearby schools right now by putting your zip code into the following search tool!
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Can I Study Online For A Vocational Degree
Some trade schools offer online programs, but vocational distance learning depends on the subject. Since vocational degrees train students for specific career paths after graduation, they often involve hands-on components.
Online programs in healthcare and manufacturing, for instance, may use a hybrid format in which students complete coursework online while meeting in-person requirements locally. Online dental hygienist students practice their clinical skills in laboratories and dental offices, while online skilled trades programs include apprenticeship-like components in the learner’s local area. Some of these hybrid programs may only offer degrees to local students who can travel to campus to complete in-person requirements.
However, many vocational programs work well in an online format. Certificates and degrees for paralegals, administrative professionals, office managers, and construction managers often translate well to an online learning format.
Check out the top vocational schools that offer online programs.
Final Thoughts On Trade School Vs College
It should be noted that Im not opposed to a four-year degree; instead, Im simply making a strong case for an option that many people overlook when deciding what to do after high school. In lifetime earnings, a bachelors degree still pays off dont get me wrong. According to statistics, a person with a bachelors degree is projected to earn around $1.1 million, compared to the $393,000 projected earnings of an associates degree or trade school program graduate.
The advantages of a four-year degree are many: Youre going to earn much more later on in life and you also have the door wide open to continue your studies and earn substantially more with a masters degree or doctorate, however the cost/benefit equation to even higher education is changing every day.
Trade school graduates are very limited in opportunities to continue to bolster their education. That being said, a four-year degree is expensive, and not suited to everyones learning style and skill set. If youre a hands-on learner, excited by the prospects of getting out of the classroom and starting to work immediately after high school, trade school is a relatively inexpensive alternative education that may work well for you. Take advantage of the search tool above to learn more about trade schools near you and what they offer.
This past May, my nephew graduated from high school. He is now attending electricians school as well. I think its the wisest move he could have made in his situation.
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Graduate And Start Your Career Sooner
A major benefit of attending trade school rather than college is the amount of time it takes to graduate. While most college degrees are expected to take four years to complete, this is often not the case, as many students take five or six years to complete a bachelors degree. That means youre looking at anywhere from four to six years before you can begin your career. At a trade school, though, program lengths are considerably shorter, allowing you to graduate sooner and begin working in less time.
This Post Has 2 Comments
I think that if the answer to why you are doing anything is I dont know,everyone else is doing it,its what Im supposed to do then its probably a good idea to wait and reassess what you think you are going to get out of it.
I absolutely agree that not everyone needs to go to college, or they dont need to go straight out of high school-especially if they have no idea what they want to do as a job/career! Theres no point in spending that money if there isnt a good plan.
I disagree a lot with your opportunity cost assessment, though. Unfortunately, many decent paying jobs require a college degree even if the job itself doesnt require skills normally learned in college. An annual salary of minimum wage comes to $15,080. Some jobs on your list may not require a college degree, but they do require training and certification to the tune of thousands. Take pilots-just getting the certification isnt enough to get a job at a major airline making a good wage. First you have to get enough experience and that means lower tiered airlines and barely making above minimum wage.
You do a really good job of getting the conversation about the necessity of college going! So many people go just because its the next life step but as you pointed out there are many alternatives. College will always be there-but if youre not jazzed about it then its in your financial interest to explore other alternatives first.
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Accredited Programs To Ensure Quality
Many trade schools are accredited. This is important to look for when helping your child search for the right school experience. When your child attends an accredited school, it will help them receive financial aid and it ensures the school engages in practices that will make your child more employable in the future.
Community College: Hop On The Success Train
In light of these financial and economic obstacles faced by university attendees, many high school graduates are choosing to go alternative routes to escape debt and high costs. According to an article by Forbes, stats from the Department of Labor have shown that job growth for people with associates degrees was recently outpacing that of more advanced degree holders. The Labor Department statistics show that employment for individuals in the United States with an associates degree have increased by 578,000 in the past six months, while those with a bachelors degree have only increased by 314,000. Furthermore, the fastest growing occupations in the United States such as dental hygienists and veterinary technologists require only a community college education.
Community college is also becoming an increasingly affordable option in comparison to the sky high tuition of university and increasing unemployment rates. According to 2011 statistics, the average tuition for public two year institutions was only $2,713, making a total of a little over $5,000 in total owed, not to mention the $1700 in Pell Grant Aid money offered to community college students.
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How To Choose The Best Type Of School For You
The college vs. university decision can be a tough one. With all the educational options out there, from two-year career colleges and community colleges to four-year liberal arts colleges and universities, finding the school that suits you best can be a challenge. Here are five steps to follow when choosing an institution of higher education:
Comparing The Cost Of Trade School Vs College
While the average cost for a four-year college is listed at $9,410 per year, most graduates actually;end up paying around $127,000 for their degree!;Of those, at least 20% graduate with more than $50,000 in debt and nearly 6% graduate from a four-year university with over $100,000 in student loan debt. How many years of work will it take to pay that off?
On the high end, it costs;around $33,000 to complete trade school.;However, there are programs available that cost less.
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Examine Your Academic Record
Based on your course grades and test scores, where could you reasonably expect to be admitted? Admission requirements vary among four-year colleges and universities, but most expect a certain level of academic achievement. And competition for spots at the most popular institutions can be fierce.
Community colleges and career colleges typically have open admission, which means that anyone who completes high school is eligible to enroll. That makes these colleges a more accessible option for those students whose high school transcripts might need a little work. If you’re aiming for a bachelor’s degree but your grades aren’t what you would like them to be, spending a couple years at a community college can help get you ready to transfer to a four-year institution to finish your education.
College Vs Trade School: Soft Life Skills
While it is important to focus on your GPA, it doesnt hurt to develop additional life skills that might help you later. Employers want to know whether you have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and problem-solving skills.
This is where college shines. In college, you can easily build these soft skills: take an extra class you like, engage in college events, and make friends from different cultures. However, make sure to consider whether you really need the extra credits and courses later in life, so youre not wasting your time.;
Trade schools, on the other hand, offer short, vocation-specific courses. They polish and prepare students for the industry. Unlike colleges, trade schools do not focus on character-building activities. The programs are cut out to prepare you for the real world. Its a one-track pursuit to find the right job.
Trade school or college, what matters is your experience and passion for your job. Carefully consider the elements above before making your decision but remember, you can always change professions later!
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