How To Know If You’re Meant for College or a Trade

a woman sitting at a table

Somehow, it happened. You’re now in the latter half of your high school education, and it’s time to start thinking about your next steps. What you decide to do after high school will determine your future at least for the next couple of years. Do you envision yourself at a big university spending all four years there? Or do you see yourself learning a specific trade and entering the workforce sooner rather than later?

There are pros and cons to both sides. Going to college means you’ll have to think about getting into the right school and nailing those SATs. Meanwhile, choosing a trade is all about substituting a full-blown campus life for a well-paying job within a short amount of time. These decisions will decide your path for the next few years. So, here’s how to know if you’re meant for college or a trade.

Think about your desired career path.


Deciding between college vs. a trade school is a lot easier for people who already know what they want to do. If you want to become a doctor, for example, then going to college would undoubtedly be your ideal path. But if you want to become a nurse, then you could consider either option. There are plenty of trade schools for nursing which allow you to complete the program within a shorter amount of time. And you won’t have to worry about taking prerequisites. If you’re unsure of what you want to pursue, you can go to college and spend the first two years taking your prerequisites with an “undecided” major.

Evaluate the admissions process.

When it comes to applying for college, there are a lot more steps involved. You typically need good grades, extracurricular activities, and high SAT or ACT scores to get into a top school. But if going to college helps you meet your career goals, then you should seek the help of an admissions service. College application services help you with admissions tasks like test prep, essay editing, virtual counseling, and financial planning. Admissions counselors at Empowerly help high school students get into their dream school and assist with the process every step of the way. For trade schools, it’s a lot less complicated. It’s usually just a matter of checking availability after you graduate and coming up with the finances.

Decide how much time you want to spend in school.

Do you want to participate in campus life? Are you looking to have a college experience like they do in the movies? Do you like taking notes in a lecture? Or do you hate all the traditional aspects of learning? Some high school students despise the traditional learning environment. Sitting in a classroom and focusing on memorization isn’t ideal for everyone. Some people prefer a practical application, and that’s what trade schools offer. College is a lot like an extension of what you’ve experienced in the past.

Determine what’s worth the cost.


Think about your earning potential. If you go to college to become a teacher, you could earn a higher salary after getting a Master’s or a Ph.D. When you choose a trade like a barbering program, you tend to stay within a general range of pay. Factor in the cost of these two avenues of education. While your earning potential may be higher after college, it’s also far more costly and you’ll have a higher loan to pay off. Trade schools generally tend to cost less. Plus, you spend less time in school and enter the workforce sooner.

At the end of the day, your decision comes down to what you want in life. Is there a specific job you want to have? How much schooling can you put up with? Do you think the cost of college is worth it? Hopefully, this guide has helped you determine what you can get out of pursuing an education.

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