We’ve all heard “you can’t get a solid job without a degree” at some point in our lives. A large percentage of the population follows suit with society and goes to college for a degree, and a large percentage of that population end up never using the degree. Instead, they are stuck with thousands of dollars of debt in school loans.
According to credit.com, statistics show the current student loan debt for those 62 years of age and older being $67.8 billion dollars. More than 40% of college graduates go on to work in a field not involving their degree. The mantra many of us were taught; go to college and get a degree; has faded without new high school graduates realizing it. And yet, high school prepares students to continue this viscous cycle.
I attended college after high school. Without proper guidance, I took a full load of classes with a full time job. Little did I know, this set me for failure and a discouraging experience. I, like many others, didn’t like taking core classes and I wanted to hurry and get into the field I was working towards. With an overwhelming work load and feeling like I was getting nowhere, I quit college and started working a minimum wage job.
I contemplated going back a few times, and even attempted another semester. Again, I was frustrated with accumulating debt and feeling like the required classes were stalling my progress. At 28 years old, I quit again and has no idea what to do with my future. What I did have was a few thousand dollars in debt and nothing to show for it.
It wasn’t until I was nearly 30 that I stopped believing the stigma behind vocational schools. I had always believed, due to society and personal influences, that vocational school was “settling” and not a path to a real job. Once I looked into it, I realized I was not the only one fooled by this stereotype.
I took a leap and enrolled in a vocational program for EMT/paramedic. The program was slated for 4 months to obtain my EMT license and 18 months to obtain paramedic. But the icing on the cake was that the program didn’t require core classes. It involved the classes necessary to work in the field as an EMT/paramedic, hands on clinical time, and knowledge needed for the line of work.
I can honestly say, vocational school was the absolute best decision I’ve ever made. The cost is far less and the skills I need are taught directly during the program.
I’ve come to the conclusion that more graduates preparing to leave high school need to be educated on the possibility of vocational schools. They are far underrated and provide opportunities just as incredible as college. We as adults must help educate the students graduating and present this information to them. Without that, they are far from fully informed of their options that may hinder their future.
If you have children in school, teach, or have the ability to help start this change, join me! It’s not to say we must divert them from college; that may be their chosen path. However, let’s be sure they are 100% informed instead of giving them a one sided point of view on how to handle their future.