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What Are the Benefits of College Vs. Technical School?

by Neil Kokemuller, studioD

For students who decide they don't want to dedicate four years to a degree program, a technical or trade school often makes sense as a way to advance a career ambition. However, students who possess more academic discipline and a desire for increasing income and employment options, a four-year bachelor's program might prove beneficial.

Social Experience

For students who want the more traditional college experience, a four-year college or university is a better fit. Trade or technical schools often have less on-campus housing than four-year schools. At a traditional college, you can live in a dorm or on-campus apartment, become more active in social clubs and Greek life, participate in intramural sports and hang out with friends at school and in the college community. This offers a better chance to social involvement and the development of strong friendship bonds. Technical schools are more commonly commuter-based, with students driving in for classes and leaving shortly after.

Employment Potential

College degrees generally included a broader range of content that qualifies graduates for entry-level careers in a variety of businesses and industries. Technical schools are much more degree and industry-specific. While they might offer more immediate employment in the field, they lead to less overall career flexibility. In some cases, students with a four-year college degree can land jobs requiring degrees in areas outside of their college major. This is the benefit of taking classes in math, sciences, language, humanities and communication, along with major-specific classes.

Income Potential

Technical school graduates in certain careers can actually find jobs that pay higher than entry-level jobs attained by four-year graduates. However, on the whole, four-year grads make more over the duration of their working lives and have access to more high-paying jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics studied median income across all education levels in 2012. The results showed that bachelor's degree earners made more than 26 percent more, typically, than workers with an associate degree.

Broader Knowledge Base

Along with the tangible career and income advantages, a primary purpose of a four-year college experience is a broader knowledge base and skill set. The combination of general education courses, program courses, electives and hands-on college experiences typically provide this. Along with greater career flexibility, a more well-rounded education enhances a graduates ability to converse, interact with community and business leaders and participate more fully in the entire operation of an organization.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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