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Not Only Affordable College, but Affordable Learning.

A story of a young man working in Yellowstone and his experience with trade school.

Photo of Cristin
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I was traveling this summer with my family and stayed in a neat hotel up in Yellowstone National Park. It was exciting getting to meet all of the staff because most of them were students about my age that traveled up for tourist season so make an extra dollar or get work experience. 

As we were seated one evening for dinner, I asked the host where he was from, and how he decided to come to yellowstone for the summer. He was from the northeast and his eyes lit up as he told me about how he was saving up to go to trade school for welding. 

It was evident to me in that moment that a college degree isn't necessary for every individual. It should not be required, or expected that all students go to a university. This student was passionate about welding, and we as a society should encourage affordable learning, not just affordable college. 

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Photo of Amy Greenhouse

Cristin, I'm glad you bring attention and dignity to trade school training. You highlight how important it is to be passionate about your career pursuits, and it is clear that the young man you met was excited about a career in welding.

I also think students who pursue academic pursuits can also benefit from some trade school training. If you want to be a mechanical engineer, wouldn't it make sense to spend some time learning automotive work? An electrical engineer who spent time learning to be an electrician? A historian who studied to be a licensed tourist guide? An art historian who studied welding? And if students studied a trade, they can actually make real money to pay for an academic degree. I agree with Cowboy that these changes will take place through a shift in how society views and values trade school training.

Please see my article https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/research/can-high-school-vocational-skills-pay-for-an-academic-degree-the-brazilian-educational-model to see how this issue is addressed in Brazil.

Photo of Cowboy Rindler

Cristin, I completely agree with you in this post. College has become a necessary for societal acceptance, however, this belief is negative. While college is very important and beneficial to some, it is not the best path for all. For example, there are tons of students who are graduating from Universities up to their ears in debt with no jobs. At the same time, there are jobs available for people with certain skills that are unable to be filled. Learning a trade is a very respectable and necessary task for society. When deciding the best path for the future, people should look into learning a trade before simply "deciding" to go to college.

Photo of Cristin

Cowboy, I like what you said about societal acceptance. I think a lot of it stems as well from expectations of employers. Opportunities are often based on the brand of your degree as much or more as the skills there you learned. I think tackling this social norms starts with the recruiting process, because, after all, we're going to college to have better work opportunities.

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