Consider the trades
Let’s face it; college isn’t for everyone. However, despite the fact that every year hundreds of thousands of dollars are wasted on tuition for unfinished college credits, it seems most parents would still prefer to spend it that way rather than invest in technical education for their child. That’s too bad. Technical schools that teach skilled trades—such as the BOCES program highlighted in our newspaper this week—need a lot more attention, especially since they result in great paying jobs.
Look, there are a lot of advantages to a four-year college degree, but there are disadvantages as well, such as the cost. The cost of college tuition increases 7-8 percent a year, even though inflation increases only around 2-3 percent annually. The only way college is affordable for many students is to get a college loan, leaving them a debt with interest that could be around $100,000 or more at the end of four years. And consider this: 40 percent of new college students will drop out of school for a variety of reasons before finishing their education, leaving them in debt without a degree.
The cost of trade school is significantly less, though. The average cost of a six-month to two-year program is around $30,000. And in the BOCES program for public high school students, that education is free.
Juniors and seniors who are uncertain about their long-term career paths or have a desire to work with their hands in a technical field can study welding, cosmetology, culinary arts, HVAC, and auto repair among many other fields while still attending high school through BOCES. Some school districts such as East Islip have alternative in-house programs as well. These programs prepare students for the job market by the time they graduate high school. And that market will be wide open for them. It’s been reported that there are more tradespeople retiring than entering the workforce, so the skilled trades are very much in demand.
The truth is, we need those auto mechanics, welders, electricians, plumbers and technicians that can repair oil burners and air conditioners just as much as we need accountants, teachers and engineers. What’s important is to know and accept what career path is better suited for each student, and provide the programs and support to help see them through to achieve those career goals.
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