College Isn't For Everyone; Consider These Options, as Well

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College is expensive. According to U.S. News, the average tuition and fees at an in-state public college comes out to $9,716, compared with $35,676 for private colleges per year. Public, out-of-state schools cost about $21,629 on average per year.

Despite these high sticker prices, survey results from Movin' On Up, the Express Employment Professionals blog for job seekers, and Refresh Leadership Express' blog for business leaders, found that parents are still pushing their children to attend college.

Interestingly, 33 percent of business leaders and 33 percent of job seekers (coincidentally the same percentage) said that their parent/guardian encouraged them to achieve a four-year college degree or higher.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 66.7 percent of high school graduates ages 16 to 24 were enrolled in colleges or universities in October 2017. These relatively high college attendance rates resulted in soaring student loan debt. As noted in Forbes, according to Make Lemonade, more than 44 million U.S. borrowers collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Global News notes that Canadian students collectively owe over $28 billion in student loans.

Although college can be the perfect choice for many students, it isn’t right for everyone. At the very least, high school graduates should be aware that educational opportunities other than college exist. These include attending career technical or trade schools, and getting into the skilled trades, among other options.

Why opt for Career Technical Education?

  • CTE-trained workers are in demand.
  • CTE leads to high-paying jobs.
  • CTE is affordable.
  • CTE keeps the country competitive.

In a recent article, the BLS outlines several blue-collar jobs and their associated median annual wage, many of which are comparable to those received by some college students. These include:

  • Electricians: $54,110
  • First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers: $64,070
  • Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters: $52,590
  • Secretaries and administrative assistants (except legal, medical, and executive): $35,590
  • First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers: $55,060
  • First-line supervisors of production and operating workers: $58,870
  • Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers: $40,240
  • Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing (except technical and scientific products): $56,970
  • Insurance sales agents: $49,710
  • Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers: $69,620
  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers: $61,050

Blue collar workers are happy. A recent study conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by Express Employment Professionals found that 86 percent of blue collar workers are satisfied with their job, with 85 percent believing their life is heading "in the right direction."

Encouraging your children to attend college may be the right choice for your child, but it’s more than worth it to let them know about other available opportunities. College isn’t for everyone, and other good-paying options exist.

Alyssa Chumbley is the owner of Express Employment Professionals.

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