Is a Four-Year College Right for Everyone?

stressed college student
stressed college student

Is a Four-Year College Right for Everyone?

In the last few decades, college tuition has skyrocketed. Go the traditional route of a four-year college and you might find yourself saddled with student debt and looking for a job while you search for your career. The four-year route may be what some of your friends are doing, but it’s not right for everyone. Is it really the path for you?

What’s Wrong with a Four-Year College Program?

  • It Doesn’t Take Four Years: Did you know that most students attending those four-year programs do not finish in four years? In fact, only 41 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduates get their degrees within four years. And when you look at colleges that boast better graduation rates, look closely. Institutions are required to report out their six-year graduation rate. That means if a college says it has a 75 percent graduation rate, it’s telling you that 75 percent of its students who started in 2014 will finish by 2020. Who pays for those extra two years? You!
  • You’ll Take Lots of Courses Unrelated to Your Career: Knowledge for knowledge’s sake is awesome. But if you’re in a hurry to get into a career and make a living, you may not want to take a lab science or global studies course. You might actually want to learn the skills of your future career.
  • You Won’t Get the Experience You Need for Your First Job: While a few colleges ask you to participate in an internship as a graduation requirement, most don’t. That means when you graduate you have a sum total of zero experience in your field. Do you know what most employers look for first when they hire? Experience.
  • Four-Year College Programs Cost a Lot of Money: One of the most compelling reasons that a four-year degree path may not be for you is its cost. There are ways to make college more affordable—community colleges, financial aid, commuter college—but student debt now stands at $1.5 trillion. How much debt are you willing to take on for a college degree with no direct connection to a job?

Where Will You Go Instead of a Four-Year College?

If your ultimate goal is to find a career you care about that will help you earn a living, you don’t need to go to a traditional college. There are many in-demand careers that don’t require a four-year degree. In fact, you can complete your training for some of them in as little as one year. Whether it’s working in automotive, healthcare, or computer-related jobs, a savvy student will want to check out all the possibilities before committing to a four-year college.

What Is Vocational Training?

Vocations or “the trades” are careers that allow you to work with your hands and your brain. And if you choose to become an electrician or plumber, for example, you can prepare at a career-training school and enter the workforce long before those friends who attended four-year programs. Here are some reasons why vocational training might be just what you are looking for:

  • Hands-on Learning and Doing: Are you a “hands-on” learner? Then the thought of being stuck behind a desk all day in a classroom or a job probably sounds like torture. The trades let you do a job that requires mental and physical ability.
  • Many Vocational Careers are in Demand: As the baby boomers retire, many employers in the trades worry about a shortage of workers in skilled trades who can take their place. And did you notice? When millions of people lost their jobs during the nation-wide pandemic shutdown, men and women doing essential work stayed on the job.
  • Vocational Careers Take Less Time and Money to Pursue: If you are ready to go out and start earning money without spending years in a classroom, the trades are something to consider. You can qualify for many careers in as little as one year, and with externship opportunities and field experience you will hit the ground running.
  • You Won’t Have to Take Unrelated Classes: Oh, and Western Civilization and Freshman English? They’re not on the curriculum when you want to be an HVAC or Automotive Technician. In most four-year college degree programs, you will have to take classes outside of your major. But when you’re training for a hands-on career, you learn what you need. You can still be a life-long learner, but you choose when, what, and how you learn.


There are many great career paths that don’t require a four-year degree. Like working on cars? Be an automotive technician. Enjoy hairstyling and putting on makeup? You will love Cosmetology. Interested in healthcare and helping people? There are many opportunities as a medical assistant or dental assistant.

At Porter and Chester Institute, you can receive hands-on training in Connecticut and Massachusetts for a variety of careers in as little as one year. Want to find out more? Fill out the form or give us a call at 800-870-6789.