How To Choose a College That’s Right For You: The Ultimate Guide

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This new article will show you everything you need to know about how to choose a college. There are few decisions as important as choosing the right school to attend after High School. When it comes to Ivy League colleges, it can be simple; you choose the best school you get accepted into.

In the current economic climate however, more and more students are turning to trade schools instead of traditional four-year colleges. This can be a great option, and often results in more solid job options post-graduation. The difficult part is in choosing what school is the best option for you.

From community colleges to technical trade schools, each and every option has it’s merits. Community college can often be the cheapest option but that does not mean It is the best. Overcrowding schools, long wait lists and low funding can mean that more specialized trade schools can sometimes be better. In this article we will discuss a few common job choices and their subsequent training options for study.

How To Choose a College That’s Right For You:

Union Skills (Electrician, Carpentry, Plumbing, HVAC, etc..)

If your dream is to become a plumber or electrician, you may just be in luck! These trades often don’t require any formal schooling at all. They are very involved trades however that can take years to effectively master. Many unions will take on apprentices and will pay for all training and classes required to obtain the necessary skills.

Electricians especially will be in these apprenticeships for up to 5 or 6 years learning the ins and outs of the trade, but a huge benefit of this type of work is that one will be paid during the entirety of this training with raises occurring regularly as skills are mastered. In certain competitive markets, union waitlists can be years deep. Areas like California are densely populated, and the union waits are often 5-7 years long for those with no experience.

In these cases, technical trade schools can be very useful and many of them will feed into the unions significantly lowering the waiting period. Another added benefit of a technical trade school is that one could work for a non-union company, thereby avoiding union dues and allowing more control over your professional progress.

These schools are often attached to community colleges or are separate community trade schools, and usually are very affordable. Many of them are part time and will assist you with placement in your field. Be wary of schools guaranteeing jobs or that are very high cost.

These schools usually cater toward veteran’s who have a GI bill to assist with payment, and will be very high cost for anyone else, driving up your student loan balance up to $40,000 or more! Technical trade schools are a great option if you’re looking to get into a technical trade, get union work or if you’re looking to pay cash for school.

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Community Colleges

One of the lowest cost options for school is, of course, your local community college. Benefits of community college include a low standardized cost per unit of college credit, a diverse offering of majors and concentrations and wide variety of certificate and career training programs. With federal Pell grants up to $5920 a year available, many students can even attend for free.

Programs available often include Culinary Arts, Cosmetology, Welding, Automotive Technology and much more. Check your local community college or colleges because all schools offer different programs, and the college in the next town over may offer the program you’ve been searching for.

While the costs are extremely low, there are some challenges with community college. If you live in a densely populated area, chances are you’re not the only one dreaming of a specific program. Waitlists for programs such as cosmetology and nursing can be years long and only admit a handful of students a year.

Also, even with financial aid, the costs of registration are usually due up front and will be reimbursed upon federal grant disbursement. These facts may do little to deter you if you’ve found the program of your dreams. Go ahead and feel confident with your choice of enrolling in community college, you’ve found the best education for the price.

You can often even receive your Associate Degree and transfer to a University, paying pennies on the dollar of someone who went straight to a four-year college. Sometimes the waitlists are worth it.

Four Year College or University

While once considered the norm for post-high school education, the four-year University has always been the gold standard. A Bachelor’s Degree is what most think of when they think of further education, and society has drilled it in at an early age that the only way to make a decent living in the future is to attain one.

This is simply not true anymore, especially in a post 9/11 economy. We are moving back into an Industrial Revolution, creating new things at home and exporting less. This requires people with technical skills; skills that are attained by doing, not learning.

There will always be a necessity for the well educated in society to take roles such as engineers, teachers and scientists. People with those aspirations will be best served getting their degree from a traditional four-year college. The benefits of going straight to University include an increased feel in community at your college, involvement in associations like fraternities that could help build connections for the future, and many other social opportunities like dorm living.

This is at the expense of your budget and if money is the greatest concern, consider starting at community college and transferring. This is especially good advice if you do not know what you would like to major in. After graduation, one may then continue to a Master’s degree, or even a doctorate. If graduate school is in your future, then so is a four-year University.

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Specialized Trade Schools

The final option to discuss is a specialized trade school. These are schools that focus usually on one or two specific career paths and pour all their energy and resources into those paths. Examples include Salon Success’s School of Cosmetology, Platt School that focuses on medical careers, and ITT Tech that focused on, you guessed it, technology.

ITT Tech must be used in past-tence and that is because it has been shut down for a lack of strong curriculum and misappropriation of federal loan funds. This is exceptionally important to consider and to look at before enrolling in ANY school. The graduates from ITT have degrees that many look at as useless because their school closed down, and now they have a mountain of student debt to climb out from under.

If you choose a technical trade school that specializes in the trade of your choice, be very wary. Ensure a good graduation and job attainment record. This is part of the school’s disclosures and should be available to you upon request. Also, make sure that the school is within your budget. Do not attend a school you cannot afford because it seems like the easiest path.

Finally, make sure that the degree you attain from a specialized trade school is compatible with the job you want and the accreditation is of the level necessary to achieve meaningful employment post-graduation.

Thank you for reading this article about how to choose a college and I really hope that you take action my advice. I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.