Opinion: High schools focus too much on four-year universities


Is college the only choice after high school?

In most schools, there is too much of an emphasis on a four-year university and not enough on other opportunities. Some of these opportunities could include trade schools or jobs that only require a high school diploma. Receiving a college education can create a huge student loan debt and this can take a while to pay off.  

An image of an electrical board that an electrician may work on. This is just one of the many careers that are available out of high school.

“File:IL-76-electrican-panel.jpg” by Vivan755 is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

One negative aspect of a four-year university is the student loan debt. The price of a universities’ degree can be massive, even with financial aid. According to U.S. News, most college graduates have around $30,000 student loan debt. EducationData says it takes an average of 20 years to pay off. These numbers can be persuasive in the argument questioning the necessity of college.

An alternative to going to college is getting a job with a high school diploma. Jobs such as plumbers, insurance sales agents, patrol officers and electricians all require only a high school diploma. These jobs range from 30K-50K without the need for a college degree, as reported by U.S. News. The money made from this also won’t be going towards paying off the college debt; another reason for its benefit.

Another opportunity besides a university is a trade school. At a trade school, people can earn an associates degree in two years and then start their skilled profession. This is much faster than a four year university and it will provide you with more hands-on experience. The price varies by school but they cost an average of $33,000, according to BestColleges. They can last from three months to a year for a diploma and 18 months to 24 months for an associate degree. This is a noteworthy alternative that is not discussed much in high schools.

In schools, students need to be more aware of these opportunities that they have. Counselors and teachers are more focused on promoting college pathways for students, rather than trade schools or jobs. This can be fixed by integrating discussions about trade schools or having pamphlets with job information available. This would allow students to gain the information they need while also keeping the college pathway available.

In most high schools, there is too much focus on attending a four-year university. There is little talk about opportunities such as trade schools and jobs that require a high school diploma. These options can be more beneficial or attractive to a student, but many are not aware of them. This can be fixed with information available in pamphlets and discussions about alternatives to college in schools. It is always important to know that there are options.

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