College isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue some form of higher education or job training. When you think about your future, what do you imagine? Are you doing something you love or are you just working for pay?
If you are one of the many trying to make a decision about where to spend your money and invest your future, read on. This article provides a comparison of 4-year colleges and technical schools. Which of these is correct for you?
How to choose between 4-year colleges and technical schools:
Ask yourself these questions, and then consider the benefits and drawbacks of each type of school.
What are your goals? Do you have a specific career goal? What are your educational goals? Do you want to learn all you can about a variety of topics? Do you want to learn all you can about a specific topic (become an expert)?
What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Would you benefit from a shorter and more specific program?
Lifestyle. How will school fit into your life? Would you benefit from non-traditional programming, such as online, evening, or distance learning? 4-year colleges and technical colleges offer these options, but they vary by school, so check with the schools you are interested in attending.
What do you need? Realistically, what kind of degree or training do you need to pursue your dreams? Research your desired field – find out what the requirements are and how they compare to the programs you are considering. The US Department of Education website offers resources for career research and training.
Be a consumer. Check the equipment; Is it new and updated? How does it compare to the equipment you will be using at work? Believe me, this can be tedious but it is very important. After graduating, I realized that I should have taken more time to research the computer programs that employers expected me to know about for technical writing jobs. Had I been better informed, I could have taken additional courses specifically related to those programs.
Investigate the following: current and former campus size, students, faculty, and staff;
Find out if the school is accredited and licensed; Do they make extraordinary claims? Will your credits be transferable?
Some people like to learn for the sake of learning, while others are more focused and driven and use school as a stepping stone to advancement at work. If you are interested in more academic pursuits, a traditional 4-year college might be your best option.
Profits: liberal arts training applies to many fields, various subjects to explore, prestige, “college life”
Disadvantages: expensive, time consuming, you may get a degree in an area you no longer want to pursue, high admission standards and prerequisites, the job market may be slower after graduation, you may require additional training
If the university were for everyone, technical schools would not exist. Some people may feel a stigma associated with technical schools. In a society where attending college has become standard, we lose sight of the value of vocational training. People feel abnormal and may get angry if they don’t want to go to college, but feel pressured to do so anyway.
Profits: shorter duration, focused programs, easier admissions standards, flexible hours, certifications not necessarily offered at 4-year colleges, practical training
Disadvantages: may be seen as less prestigious, may be expensive, there may be less room for exploration of other topics, accreditation, for-profit institutions
Many of the fastest growing jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree, but do require post-secondary education (education beyond high school). These jobs include:
o Medical assistants
o Social and human services assistants
o Home health aids
o Technicians in medical records and health information
o Physiotherapist aids
o Physiotherapist assistants
o Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors
o Veterinary technologists and technicians
o Hazardous materials removal workers
o Dental hygienists
o Occupational therapist assistants
o Dental assistants
o Aids for personal and home care
o Self-enrichment education teachers
o Occupational therapist assistants
o Technicians in environmental sciences and protection, including health.
o Preschool teachers, except special education
o Respiratory therapists
For more information on job growth statistics, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
Remember, the best way to determine what is right for you is to simply know yourself and stay informed.