How to Choose a Goal in Life

Throughout a student’s life, the most consistent question he or she hears is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As we matriculate through high school, that question becomes more pertinent because the decisions made in high school concerning coursework are necessary to guide the student on the path to higher education. For most, the driving force behind the decisions made is salary. Because of social media, material possessions matter. Therefore, students feel that they need to go into professions that demand a high salary. While there are various paths to careers, many high schools tend to focus on college as the preferred choice for post-secondary education. But, is this always the best choice? Becoming a tradesman can be an equally viable solution for those looking towards future stability. 

Society is split on deciding the true purpose of college. Should the purpose be to teach job skills or to learn help a person grow into a responsible adult? For many, the college experience is much more than attending classes. College is a place to form life-long bonds, learn how to function as an adult and to shape the person into a productive member of society. It is in college that a student forms his or her own opinions and values, separate from the influence of parents and other family. College, with its numerous classes offers the opportunity to explore different avenues of study. College exposes students to a variety of career choices. According to the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES), the average time spent getting afour year degree is six years and the average cost of tuition for a four year degree is $127,000. Many question if the cost and time are worth it. Meanwhile, the National Association of Colleges and Employers report that after graduating college the average starting annual income falls between $52,000 for graduates in social sciences to $72,500 for those with degrees in computer science. While the salaries seem promising, there is the matter of the massive debt awaiting graduates. However, these are the average starting salaries. The yearly income will rise as the employees gain more knowledge and experience.Many employers value the professionalism, work ethic and oral and written communication skills of the college graduates. 

By contrast, there is evidence to suggest that some college experience might be overrated. Often, the education and degree do not match with the job a graduate takes. Many take jobs that have nothing to do with their college major. According to Zhu, “College graduates may accept mismatched positions for career-related reasons... These reasons can be regarded as supply-related reasons. Demand-related reasons for accepting such positions may indicate an unavailability of matched jobs in the degree field or job discrimination that prevents the college graduates from finding a suitable position”. Trade or vocational schools are post-secondary institutions that give students training to prepare them for a specific job. Training programs last between eightmonths to two years. Once a student completes the training, they graduate with a diploma, trade certificate, or associate degree as opposed to a bachelor’s degree awarded from a four year college. Trade school training is job specific with all course geared towards learning a specific skill. There are no on campus activities at trade schools.Recently, the demand for skilled trade workers has risen and there is a shortage of trained professional to fill the jobs. Those students entering the workforce with these specific skills are guaranteed employment in their fields. The average cost for attending a trade school is $33,000, nearly $100,000 less than a traditional four year college. The average starting annual salary varies greatly from $38,000 to $65,000 depending on which trade. Financially, the cost and return from attending a trade school outweighs attending a four year institution.

While there is a monetary benefit to attending trade school, there is the issue of being limited in what jobs a person canobtain in life. Having very specific training in a specific industry can keep a person from exploring any new opportunities. Often, opportunities for management and growth are limited because management level jobs often require college degrees. Overall, it is a personal choice as to whether a student chooses trade school or a college education. The short term financial feasibility is in attending trade schools and learning a skill for a job that is high demand, guaranteeing a job. 

07 July 2022
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