I have talked at length about the elusive vocation, the alternative route to riches. Whether you go to College, embark upon an apprenticeship, or go straight into a job is perhaps something that most teens do not take the right amount of time to consider. We are easily swayed by the norm, by parents/friends/peers and by what society as a whole seem to expect us to do. There are three strands here that make this subject open to continuous debate and change:
- Depending on which government is in power and what strategy they are taking there could be an abundance of apprenticeships or fast track schemes. Tuition fees for college could be rising steeply, moderately or be halted. Unemployment could be a growing concern or a diminishing problem. Politics has a significant part to play in what options are available to school leavers.
- Nobody knows the right answer. There is growing concern that too many teens feel pressured into doing a major when they are not academically gifted or haven’t even considered an alternate route to their career. Is an apprenticeship, or hands on work experience more beneficial than a theory based qualification? Do graduates get paid more than employees who have worked their way up? Does the future need more creative thinkers or physical labourers? There really isn’t a one size fits all answer – consideration of every option is the most sensible path.
- Pride plays a huge part in any decisions being made. Are you considered lazy or unambitious if you opt out of college? Are you expected to follow in your parents footsteps? There is often an expectation that students will continue to push themselves to reach their full potential and obtain a degree but this can be extremely anti-climactic if that does not then translate into an ideal job.
So, if we take those into consideration these key factors we are left with a notion that an alternative route to College could be a beneficial one. The question is then how beneficial?
An article by Kyle Kensing called ‘The Best Jobs Without a College Degree’ sheds some light on the figures we are talking about for opting to work instead of study. These examples are of people who have gone straight into work instead of continuing on in further education.
Automobile Body Repair
Receives certificates after 6 months study
A learned trade or short courses can be done online
Communications Equipment Mechanic
A learn on the job profession
4 year apprenticeship
3 year apprenticeship
Administrative/ Executive Assistant
These figures may not mean a great deal out of context and Kensing gives them that in one of his closing arguments: ‘The average median salary per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for our top jobs without a college degree is $41,307. To be sure, the top 15 careers in the Jobs Rated report requiring a Bachelor’s degree or more average $73,771 in annual median salary, but the cost of that education can easily exceed $200,000’. To learn more about the cost of College and the years it can take students to pay those fees off read some of the blogs that predate this one.
The ultimate earning potential of a graduate is undeniably higher but this wage rests on everything going to plan:
- A work orientated life – so no kids until the debt is paid off
- A long term career as short careers do not justify the initial outlay of expenditure
- The right degree for a high paid position
- The right job in a very competitive market
- The degree is completed
There are far less variables for the student choosing the career and then working towards a qualification or on the job skills. There is no simple answer to the college verses no college conundrum but the questions are being asked. Does you chosen career need a degree? Do you dislike the idea of College? Would you sooner earn from day one and bypass the debts a four year degree entails? You are in charge of your own destiny – make the decision that is right for you!
Kyle Kensing (2013). 20 Great Jobs Without a College Degree – Available online: ByCareerCast.com