University Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
The time we live in has changed measurably and the old models of education lack some ingenuity to fit the new market rules. The fact is that whenever we want to invest in our lives while being a part of the educational system, our enrollment in it for the purpose grabbing the best diploma/degree which will ‘guarantee’ better future is a rule we must follow. But the market has changed and the opportunities for learning have twisted significantly. Now college is still a great way to help a person acquire the right skills for being a good professional in certain fields, but is it really necessary in order to succeed in life? Is it really the best and only way to become good at something, or better alternatives which save a lot of time and money are equally good, or even better? Let’s analyze the average costs of education, length of studies and possible benefits between trade schools (starting trend in the 90’s) and average colleges in order to see things as they really are.
Students decide to go to college because of the increase of possible income, which is around $17,000 bigger with a college diploma, rather than working with a high school diploma on a yearly basis. Most of the colleges have a four-year program for getting bachelor’s degree in which the person loses approximately $ 30,000, which is considered the average opportunity costs for being a college student instead of a worker. Trade Schools last only two years, so the initial pros of such in money based value is $60,000 plus. The comparison of length looks something like this, but only theoretically. The Institute of Education of USA published a survey saying that from all of the attendants at college, only 60% get their diploma. According to US News, 64% of graduates need more than 4 years to finish college, which adds an astonishing average of $70,000 of student expenses yearly, possible $100,000 considering the opportunity costs. Great deals of expenses follow later in life because of the student loans, and graduates end up being stuck with $50,000-$100,000 of debt after the studies are completed. Well at least the graduates will have a brighter future in their profession, right? – Supposedly, but it is not so certain anymore. The unemployment and underemployment rates for college graduates have doubled since 2007, leaving a lot of students work-less and unable to pay their student loans.
Trade schools come as a great alternative and opportunity for merely secure future. First of the benefits, as I mentioned before, are the spared two years (at least) of student expenses. Since the average yearly expenses of college students come up to $70,000, trade school students save $140,000 because of the shorter course of studies. And what you get with the diploma? A college graduate is expected to have $47,000 annual income, $11,200 more than students coming from trade schools, says the National Center for Educational Statistics. Since the college graduates spend $140,000 more, the students from trade schools have a 12-year advantage until balancing earnings vs. expenses with college graduates. The average student debt load for trade school graduates is 70% less than college graduates, summing up to $10,000 per student. Another factor of benefit for students who decide to go study in trade schools are the opened job possibilities. Since most of the population working ‘specific’ jobs like mechanics or dentists’ hygienists is older, the labor market narrows and needs to be filled with more young enthusiasts that are sure to get the job they were taught for. And as long as the competition is low, the incomes of the services of technicians will continue to rise. Sure, four-year college degree offers bigger possibilities on longer terms, but nowadays nothing is certain and the conditions and costs of studying change drastically. Whatever a student chooses should go for it until the goal is reached and be satisfied with nothing less.
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