No Shame in Going to a Trade School
Going To College Is Not For Everyone
For some kids, the stress of whether to go to college is a pressure cooker waiting to explode, especially if they do not want to go. College is not for every kid, but parents often put their ambitions for their children on them. We are well aware of the extent some parents go to to get their kids into a university. Is college for the kid or for the parents? There was a time when the military was the go-to source of jobs for kids, especially African American kids. Parents looked at the military as a way out of the ghetto, which could eat their kids up and spit them out on the nearest-drug infested corner. That seems to have changed somewhat as military standards have changed. It wasn’t so much that parents didn’t want their kids to enlist; rather, it's more that kids weren’t being accepted so readily.
There is an alternative out there that most parents fail to push, and that’s work that’s done with your hands. These are the construction workers, electricians, and plumbers, just to name a few. These jobs offer good salaries, with much less cost to the student. I believe it's how these types are jobs are perceived that makes them seem on the surface less important than the professions of a doctor or lawyer. Doesn’t it sound so much better to say "My child is a lawyer," than "My child is a garbage man?"
There are many kids out here who have no desire to attend college, but feel that they have no other option, so they go. Years ago, getting an associate's degree was a sign that you’d made it, but that is no longer true. You need a bachelor’s degree, and with some occupations a master’s degree, to have a chance of getting that high-paying job. There are also cases where high-paying jobs still elude students because they haven’t scored high enough for Corporate America to even consider them. For some of our next-generation kids, high school is all they can see; they see nothing beyond that. It's a strange thought that when you were a kid, you wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, anything that was glamorized on television. When the drug craze came about, television started to glamorize that quick money, and then kids started to go in that direction. I’m not saying this happens to every kid, but enough kids get drawn into easy money and a flashy lifestyle. Then the technology craze hit, and now we have some kids sitting in front of a screen before they can even talk. In a sense, they are raised by screens. They have little, if any, ambition and college is a definite no-no.
My grandson is in the eleventh grade, and I often ask him, “What are you interested in?" Because everything I suggest is a NO! When he was small, he had dreams; what happened to them? He isn’t a bad student, but is an average student who won’t be getting into any Ivy League school. That’s OK because there’s an alternative: a trade school. A trade school occupation is something to be proud of; it's like building a house—something you put your back into. In this type of profession, you can look at your hands, and see the ability to take something from nothing and made it real. There are trade school jobs that aren’t labor-intense, like web developer or dental hygienist, that a person can learn to do, and they can be proud of what they have accomplished.
Parents, I think that you have to be honest in evaluating your child. Don’t try to make your child a college student when they have shown no desire, or when they're just barely making it out of high school. It should be about giving them choices, and trade schools should be among the options that are discussed. I checked online, and these are some of the best jobs for trade school graduates:
- Elevator Installer/repairer, median salary $77,806
- Radiation Therapist, median salary $69,504
- Web Developer, median salary $58,448
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, median salary $55,106
- Electrician, median salary $52,527
These salaries aren’t too shabby for a person not going to college.
College is great for students who are going for themselves, not for their parents. However, college often involves a lot of debt, and offers no guarantees that graduates will be employed in their chosen field after they've sweated for multiple years to earn their degree. A trade school involves a lot less debt, and offers better chances of employment in one's chosen field. Don’t sell your child short; give him/her every opportunity to succeed, even when college isn’t in the equation.