Let people pick their futures

written by: andrew zerman
Andrew Zerman is a junior English major. He is a staff writer for the Newswire from Cleveland, Ohio.

I remember the day clearly. May 1, 2018. The college counselors beamed with joy because every single one of the nearly four hundred seniors had matriculated to a college. After all, I attended a college prep school, so I entered as a first-year knowing the end goal. 

But during my first year of college, I found out that some of my former classmates dropped out of college to attend trade schools or  community colleges for two-year degrees. While my school had good intentions, students should be encouraged to make the decision they feel is best for them. 

Other options, such as trade schools, should be destigmatized and should not be viewed as lesser than a four-year university.

The college education system may be for me, but it is definitely not for everyone. It is not an insult to those who work in higher education; it is just the way it is. 

We all have different abilities and talents, and trying to shove college down everyone’s throats simply ignores that. Trade schools offer a vastly different approach than a college environment, as they tend to be more hands-on with much smaller class sizes than the courses you would typically see at a college.

 The stigma of trade school is in part due to viewing jobs such as welding and plumbing as inferior to college degree professions. But in what manner would they be inferior? 

A common argument is that you would make far less without a college degree. While that is true to an extent, some trade school professions make more than college degree holders. 

According to glassdoor.com, an entry level welder for Ohio would make around $40,000 for a year. An entry level plumber would make around $50,000. This is as much as, if not more than, an entry level journalist, teacher or social worker would make. 

That is not to brand those professions as inferior, but to show that associating the worth of a profession with money is not always valid.

It is correct that those in trade schools and those seeking two-year degrees would have less “education,” as the typical college experience is four or more years. Their curriculum consists solely of the field that they want to enter and core classes that can take up to two years of a college students’ career are non existent. 

So, they essentially have less debt than the typical college student, and as trade professions are always in dire need of people, they are also likely to get into the workforce quicker.

So, what exactly would make attending a trade school or two-year college inferior to attending a four-year college? Is it the “majority rules” premise, which is based on the notion that since more people go to four-year colleges than trade schools, the former must be superior to the latter?

There once was a time not so long ago when colleges were not viewed as a “rite of passage” into adulthood. I hope we can revert back to that as people should not rack up five figures in debt for something that is not their calling in life.