My Experience With a Trade School vs a 4-Year College
About a year prior to graduating high school in 2016, I said I didn't want to attend a 4-year college. I thought that it was expensive, only consisted of studying, cramming for exams, living in a dorm, and keeping my nose in a book for a degree that may or not be helpful post-graduation. I wanted to further my education, but the idea of a traditional college didn't appeal to me back then. That's when I made the decision to attend a trade school.
Fall of 2016, I stepped into my first day at a cosmetology and makeup artistry school in my hometown and met excited, ready-to-learn students just like myself. It was clear that cosmetology was a passion for every single person in the classroom - including the instructors. Every person enrolled in the program was there to get hands-on experience in a field they were excited to be a part of. The energy was contagious and everyone there was ready to learn the skills and knowledge need to succeed in the field.
Perks of a Trade School
As opposed to four years, my trade school Makeup Artistry and Airbrushing program was completed in three months. The tuition was low, students got kits of quality material at the beginning of the program, there was little to no homework outside of the classroom, and I was able to network with other individuals who had the same goals and ambitions that I did. The hands-on experience required all of us to practice what we learned on each other instead of us having to study for an exam and never actually do what we were being taught.
Post Trade School Graduation Goals
Instead of sticking our noses in books to learn, the way we were taught and quizzed prepared us for what the real working world would be like. For three months, I worked hard to earn a certification as well as started my own free-lance makeup artistry business. Without the trade education that I got, I wouldn't have been able to follow one of my biggest passions.
4-Year College Impressions
Then, after my trade school graduation, I made the decision to attend a 4-year college. I was recruited for a university in Central Florida for a degree in Creative Writing but graduated three and a half years later with a degree in Digital Journalism. I did the "college thing" and crammed for exams, kept my nose in a book, lived in a dorm, and dedicated almost four years of my life to a bachelor's degree program.
I can confidently say that what I learned there was extremely helpful. Much like in trade school, I gained knowledge of the field I was studying. However, I didn't get nearly enough hands-on learning as I did at my trade school. At my college, everything I learned was taught strictly out of a textbook. I can count on one hand the number of times I got hands-on experience in my degree program. However, that doesn't mean that it wasn't valuable information and learning. It just means that my trade degree was more helpful when I got into the real world.
Difference in Tuition
When I graduated with my trade certification, I had no debt or student loans due to the inexpensive nature of a trade school. My bachelor's degree, however, cost me 10 times as much as my trade degree. I did get almost four years of schooling for that price, but when comparing it to the knowledge I got from a trade school for just a fraction of that cost, I can confidently say that going to a trade school was the better choice financially.
Trade School vs 4-Year College
Is that to say that there is a wrong answer when choosing where to continue your education? Not necessarily. However, there are some choices you can make that may make the experience fit better for you. If you're more interested in working in a field where you can do something with your hands, a trade school may be a great option. If you're looking to save money, a trade school will most likely be a fraction of the cost of a 4-year college. If you're looking for real world hands-on learning, attending a trade school can give you that experience.
Choosing to further your education can be a big, monumental step in a person's life. Depending on what your passion is, there are a lot of ways you can go. However, take it from someone who did both the trade school route and the 4-year college route: to save money and get helpful experience, trade schools may be the best way to skyrocket into the career you're passionate about.