Part Two – The Cons


As your new adult prepares to navigate the endless maze of life-long decisions and consequences, you’re there to help and guide them. One way to do this is by making sure that they thoughtfully consider all of their options with an open mind. This includes examining the pros and cons of all possibilities moving forward. 


For most new high school graduates, college is the way to go. However, there are other valid options. In this two-part series, we’ll examine some pros and cons of diving directly into the workforce, entering college, and attending trade school. Parents and students can decide which option suits each new adult’s goals best! 


In Part One, we took a look at some excellent benefits of each choice. Now, it’s time to weigh those pros against their cons. 


Let’s dive in!


A big decision with possible life-long consequences, choosing to go to college can be a wise choice. By choosing the right school to fit their needs, your student can avoid a lot of frustration, and obtaining the right degree will offer optimum employment opportunities and maximize career success. 


But, despite all the right choices, college might not be the best option for your teen. Here are a few disadvantages they should consider before making their final decision. 


  • Cost


Everyone knows the terrible state of student loans in this country, and the expense of a college degree has become less and less likely to be offset by the following salary. 


SoFi Learn laments, “The average cost of attendance (tuition, fees, and room and board) for an undergraduate education increased 169% between 1980 and 2020, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.”


A lucrative career can offset the cost of a degree, but students should be wise in choosing a degree. Other strategies, such as dual enrollment during high school, can cut costs, and many students choose to take a gap year to work and save for their college tuition. 

  • Loss of Time and Income


Dedicating the years necessary to earn a degree means postponing many important aspects of your life. From launching their career to goals such as marriage and family, many college graduates begin their life later than their non-college peers.


“The total cost of going to college…includes an opportunity cost which equals at least four years of missed wages and advancements from a full-time job,” comments Britannica ProCon

  • No Guarantees


While a degree can increase your chances of landing a job in many industries, it’s not a sure thing. Bloomberg noted that among college graduates over the age of 25, more than half are employed outside of their field of study. This means that, at best, their specialized education isn’t benefitting them at optimum capacity, and at worst, is wasted entirely.


In 2022, Newsweek published an opinion piece that examined this problem. “Over the past 20 years, we have created twice as many bachelor’s degrees as jobs to employ those who have earned them. Over 40 percent of recent graduates are underemployed, meaning that they’re working in jobs that don’t require their degree…A survey taken in 2020 found that only a third of undergraduates see their educations as advancing their career goals, and barely one in five think the BA is worth the cost.”


These stats are disheartening, to say the least. However, as Bloomberg also notes, the choice of degree makes a huge difference in many of these instances. Graduates with STEM degrees tend to do very well in contrast to those in social science, communication, education, and art majors. 


Young adults should carefully consider the disadvantages of a college experience in today’s national climate before jumping on the university bandwagon.

The Trades

Our country runs on the trades. They are foundational to our infrastructure and represent an essential portion of the workforce. With soaring job opportunities and the promise of less investment financially and time-wise than college, trade school is a prime opportunity for many high school grads. 


Regardless of the favorable pros, there are a few cons that young adults should consider about this option. 


  • Lower Entry-Level Salaries


Trade school graduates generally enter the workforce at a comparatively low entry-level salary. Trades require on-the-job experience to raise the value of the employee. As you gain experience, your salary grows accordingly. With lower education debt and a faster-paced education experience, this can be a worthwhile trade-off but is an aspect that a new tradesman should be aware of, especially if they’re hoping for a fast payout. 

  • Financial Aid


While financial aid for college is popular and common, the same aid for trade schools isn’t as readily available.


Limited financial aid options can pose another challenge for students considering trade school,” states Best Colleges. “Traditional college students receive access to grants, scholarships, federal student loans, and other financial aid programs to help them pay for school. Trade school students often have fewer financing opportunities.”


Since trade schools are considerably less expensive than college, for many students they are more feasibly affordable regardless of conventional financial aid. However, a prospective tradesman must acknowledge and carefully prepare for the financial side of this opportunity. 

  • Limited Industries


When you attend a trade school, you’re learning a specific trade and the skills required for that trade. While the trades are nearly always a safe bet for employment opportunities, your skills may not be readily transferable if you decide to change industries. 


Goodwin University says, “Trade schools are beneficial for those who know what they want to do for the rest of their lives.…if you are set on one specific career path, a trade school is a great fit. However, if you are hoping to explore more generalized interests and fields while in school, trade school may not be right for you.”

Directly Into the Work Force

Surprisingly, 48% of students who didn’t enroll in college went directly into the workforce, and 90% of Gen Zers are choosing alternative education methods post-high school. Skipping college and starting their lives immediately after high school is an option that continues to gain popularity with new high school graduates. Considering its pros, this choice holds a promising appeal for many young adults. 


But, before making any decision, it’s always a good idea to examine the good and the bad. This choice is no exception. Let’s examine some of the downsides of directly entering the workforce. 



  • Lower Earning Potential


Without a college degree or trade certificate, the long-term prospects of higher earnings are relatively low. Some industries allow workers to excel and earn a higher income regardless of post-high school training, but these opportunities are comparatively few. 


“According to the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), those with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of about $1 million more in their lifetime than those with only a high-school diploma,” The Balance notes. “On an annual basis, the difference in earnings is about $32,000, according to the APLU.”

  • Kid to Adult Pipeline


By skipping any transitional education period, the high school kid of yesterday is the working adult today. It can be hard to go from school directly to adulthood and all that comes with it, while some post-high school education offers a chance for young adults to get their feet wet a bit more slowly.


The Balance notes some of the unfamiliar aspects a new graduate may overlook. “The costs of working after high school can add up, with transportation, food, supplies, and more.”

  • Losing the Rhythm 


If you plan to return to school and earn a degree or certificate eventually, you might find it harder to jump back into the educational realm. Once you’ve begun to live life, your rhythm and habits change. 


Business and Administration Information cautions, “You’ll have to relearn (or at least revisit) those skills when you return to the classroom. And, after a long break, they may not come back as easily. “

Goals Matter

An old wisdom adage advises that one “hear a matter out” before making a decision. In other words, listen to both sides, consider all angles, do your research, and collect the facts before making up your mind. Before your young adult launches into this next phase of life, they should look at the pros and cons of all of their options. 


New adults have huge decisions to make, and parents are vital to helping their students think through every aspect and make the right choice. One of the most effective ways for your teen to obtain perspective is for them to outline their goals and the steps they need to take to achieve them. 


If they aren’t sure what they want from life yet, that’s OK, too! They can take a break and gain experience and clarity before making a life-changing decision!


The important thing is for them to see all the facts and make an informed decision. By looking at the Pros and Cons of College, Trade School, and Directly Entering the Workforce together, you can help them do this!

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