Next school year, Hillsborough County will open two new high schools focusing specifically on giving students the opportunity to learn trade skills.
These schools, the Bowers Whitley Building and Construction Academy and DW Waters Medical Academy, will allow students to earn certifications in automotive, plumbing, electricity, nursing, emergency medical responding and more, according to Hillsborough County Public Schools.
These programs give students the chance to get the experience and certifications they need to start their career without having to attend college.
Many students believe college is their best or only option after graduation, and it is important they are educated by teachers, guidance counselors and other school administration about other options like trade school.
Nearly 63% of high school graduates enrolled in college following graduation in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
More than 70% of those who graduated high school feel like they need a four-year degree from a university in order to get a good job, according to a 2021 StrataTech survey.
“In reality, trade schools are a practical, affordable, career-focused option for many graduating high schoolers. Educators have a responsibility to eliminate the stigma and educate students about the options provided by trade schools instead of only offering information about the college path,” as stated in a 2019 article by We are Teachers, an online community of three million educators.
This belief that college is required for a good job is not only incorrect, but it can push students into spending a lot of time and money on something that won’t actually benefit them in the long run. Roughly one-in-four students who enroll at USF don’t even complete their degree, according to Univstats.
“It makes me feel great, like after I’ve been here two, almost three years, once I got my job, I was happy because that’s what I was looking forward to and once I got in there, I already had all the techniques so it’s a good trade skill,” said Justin Diaz, a student currently in one of these programs, in an Oct. 28 interview with Bay News 9.
Schools like these are a great option for students because they help them develop the skills, they need to jump right into their career without having to spend years, and thousands of dollars, to get a degree.
College is often seen as an obvious next step for high school graduates. Rather than pushing this narrative, teachers and other educators should make sure students are aware of all of the options available to them.
It is important that students know college is not the only option after graduation. College isn’t right for everyone, and pushing all students to pursue a degree can quickly become a waste of time and money.