Alternative Education and Why It Might Be Right For You

When graduating high school or seeking routes for higher education, there are a variety of options to choose from other than a 4-year university. While the decision may seem overwhelming at times, the best way to understand which path is right for you is to evaluate what YOU want in a program.


While the most popular option has been to attend a 4-year university, many people are finding 4-year degrees to be a waste of time and money. For example, the average starting salary for someone graduating from a 4-year university is $45,000, while the average starting salary for a trade school graduate is $42,000.

Trade school graduates are also entering the workforce at least two years earlier than graduates of a 4-year program. Since they most likely will have yearly pay increases, they will be making nearly equivalent salaries to university graduates. If you are considering alternatives, here is some more information to get you started.


What are trade schools?

tech school

Cost: Approximately $3,000 to $15,000 per year, most programs take a year to complete.

Trade schools provide detailed vocational instruction for numerous skilled careers. Trade schools are specialized programs that are career-driven. At trade schools, students are not required to enroll in classes that are not specific to their career paths. These programs are typically completed within a 12 month period.

You can go to trade schools for programs such as, but not limited to:

  • Contractor/ Construction Manager
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Civil Engineering Technician
  • Mechanic
  • Medical Equipment Technician
  • Electrician
  • Manicurist
  • Cosmetology
  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Legal Assistant
  • Architectural Drafter
  • Makeup Artistry, and more!


Real Estate Programs

new home

Cost: Approximately $400-$1000 per program, licensing varies by state.

Many students that graduate from other programs are also enrolling in real estate programs. Why? Due to the inflation rate of homes throughout the United States, the opportunities to grow your income, even as a side-job, is becoming the reality for many graduates of these real estate programs.

The program runs about 45 hours to 75 hours. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a real estate agent is $44,090. With a 6% job growth between 2016 and 2026, 21,700 new jobs will become available for real estate agents.


Community College

comm college

Cost: Approximately $135-$750 per course, average program requires 20 courses.

Community colleges award associate degrees or certifications for various career paths. Programs within community colleges reflect that of the current needs of the job market, which means that all of their courses include real-world level training.

A positive of attending community college is the fact that their courses are often offered at less than a fourth of the cost than university courses. In the event of altered career paths, most of the programs offered at community colleges are transferable to 4-year universities.

Some programs offered at community colleges include:

  • Medical Assistant
  • Personal Fitness Training
  • Veterinary Technician
  • Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Accounting
  • Advertising
  • Global Supply Chain Management
  • Legal Assistant
  • Law enforcement
  • Coding
  • Restaurant management
  • Finance
  • Culinary Arts, and more!


The best way to find a program or school that works best for you is to consider your options and think about what gets you closer to your end goal. The best advice anyone can give you is to always listen to your heart but act with reason. In other words, you should choose the career path that will make you happy, but you should always consider all of your options.


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