October 11th, 2018
College, Trades and Other Options After High School
Ever since you were a little kid, you have probably been asked by adults, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Your answers have probably changed since you were nine years old, to where you are now, and they will probably change by the time you graduate. In this article, I hope to help those who are undecided on what they want to pursue as a career field and to provide information on all the options you have after high school.
Some of the main reasons to go to college are an increased average income over time compared to non-degree holding peers, the prestige of having a degree, higher employment rates, and the overall university experience. These points are enticing on paper, but when you start looking further, college may not be the option for you.
College is expensive, with the average graduate being $30,100 in debt after graduation. Most people don’t pay off their loans until ten years after graduation. That’s ten years of paying off a loan for a degree that you might not be using. Around 37.9% of graduates don’t have jobs that relate to their degree. Bachelor degrees have seen an increase in their value in recent years, however, with the average starting salary of a bachelor’s holding graduate being around $49,785 annually.
Beyond that, only 59% of college students graduate after six years of starting their degree. That isn’t to dissuade anyone from pursuing a degree, but it is something to note.
Despite any pros or cons of college, you are probably going to have to go through some kind of formal education in order to be successful in today’s workforce. Sixty percent of jobs in the U.S. require some kind of college degree.
Trades can be lucrative for those who can work hard and don’t mind getting dirty. Plumbers and electricians can start out making around $30,000 a year as an apprentice, and after 5 years, they can be making $50,000 a year. Trade jobs usually require you to go through some kind of trade or technical school and then complete some kind of apprenticeship. Trade jobs are projected to see a large field growth in the coming years as baby boomers retire and infrastructure demand increases. Some of the cons of working in a trade career is long hours and being in adverse weather conditions.
The military is an option but only for about 29% of you that are reading. Many young Americans are not fit to serve due to a variety of reasons but mainly due to illegal drug use or obesity. Out of the 29% that are able to serve, many of those may not want to join the military. The dwindling recruitment pool and the lack of interest in the military may be why it is a great time to join the military. Lack of recruits means many branches of the military are offering thousands of dollars in enlistment bonuses. The U.S Army is currently offering a $40,000 signing bonus to be a Satellite Communication Systems Operator-Maintainer. The military provides a way to serve your country and potentially can be a lucrative and rewarding career. New recruits in any branch start out making around $20,000 a year, plus food, housing, and health care paid for. The military will also pay for most of, if not all, of your college after you get out if you choose to pursue a degree after your enlistment.
Taking a gap year off is a great way to travel the world and have amazing experiences if you can afford it. There are cheap ways to travel, but you will still be spending a couple thousand dollars if you want to spend the whole year traveling. Some students choose to take a gap year and work to save up money for college also. Regardless of how you choose to spend your gap year, you still have to decide on pursuing one of the above options