Essential Pittsburgh
3:50 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Increasing Numbers of High School Grads Opt for Technical Training over Traditional College

Credit Velkr0 / Flickr

While college may not be for everyone, gone are the days when you could go from work to longtime employment without some form of higher education. As the costs of college increase and as more jobs require a level of education beyond high school, trade schools are seeing a boost in enrollment. What are the economic benefits of attending trade school over college?

Brian O'Roark, professor of economics at Robert Morris University, says that student loan debt is a big factor in the decision to attend trade schools. He explains that at a time when four years of traditional college often results in tens of thousands of dollars of debt, for many students the decision to pursue a trade instead makes good economic sense.

“Skipping college actually ends up saving them in the long run because they don’t have to pay those student loans back. So if you find a trade, or if you go to a trade school and find a job that you can work at without incurring that debt, that’s actually a good thing for you.”

Four years at a university may still be the standard for post-secondary education, but the recent increase in enrollment at trade schools has called attention to a number of additional options apart from just the standard college degree.

“I think vo-tech programs are really valuable. … There’s also high school internships that are opportunities. There are trade schools. The military is still a great way for students to go out, sort of learn more about themselves and all kinds of jobs, and there are training programs in the military."

O’Roark emphasizes that high school grads considering college -- as well as the parents, guidance counselors, and friends offering advice to them -- should consider all the options for post-secondary education before just choosing traditional college by default.