University vs Community College vs Trade School: Which Is Better for You?

Monday, March 9th 2020, 3:30 am
By: News On 6

University vs Trade School

Every year, over 2.3 million Americans graduate from college.

Although college can open many doors, it’s no secret that it also costs a lot of money. In fact, the average student loan debt is a little over $33,000, and the total student loan debt has now climbed to over $1.5 trillion.

Because of this, more and more students are considering alternative forms of post-secondary education. Trade schools and technical colleges are becoming more and more popular options.

But, these schools aren’t for everyone. How do you know which option is best for you?

Check out this guide to learn about universities vs technical colleges vs trade schools.


As many of you know, a university is a 4-year institution in which one earns a bachelor’s degree. For many Americans, enrolling in a 4-year institution is the obvious choice upon high school graduation. However, it’s important to understand the pros and cons before enrolling:


  • Gain a Better Education: In college, you get to the chance to deepen your education. You can take courses that weren’t available to you in high school, like philosophy, psychology, and more
  • Better Job Prospects: Many jobs require a minimum of a college education. Look into the career you’re considering to find what the minimum requirements are
  • Better Pay: 66 percent of employees holding a bachelor’s degree take home 66 percent more income than those with just a high school diploma
  • New Experiences: Many people say that college was the best years of their life. College is a time to meet new friends, broaden your horizons, and experience the freedom of adulthood
  • Stepping stone for higher education


  • Cost: As we mentioned earlier, college can leave you with a lot of debt
  • Stress: For some people, college can be incredibly stressful

Additionally, there are many jobs you can get without a college education.

Community College

Community colleges are 2-year schools that allow you to earn an associate’s degree. These schools tend to serve as a pathway to a 4-year degree, however, it’s definitely possible to earn an associate’s degree and then go right into a career.

Here are some of the reasons why people are picking community college over 4-year colleges:

  • Flexible scheduling: Many people who attend community college are non-traditional students (ie, not fresh out of high school). Because of this, many colleges offer night/weekend classes to accommodate students working full-time jobs
  • Affordability: You can save thousands of dollars by attending a community college. The average cost per year is just $2,713
  • Educational Stepping Stone: You can put the credits you earn in community college toward a 4-year degree
  • Personalized Attention: Many community colleges offer smaller class sizes than larger schools, and you’ll often receive one on one time with your instructor

However, keep in mind that while some jobs are happy to hire those with an associate’s degree, many employees still prefer you have a bachelor’s. Additionally, if you’re looking forward to the college environment of dorms, fraternity parties, etc, community college may not be for you.

Trade Schools

Last but not least, we have trade schools, also known as technical schools or vocational schools.

Trade schools offer highly-specialized, hands-on training that usually lasts one to two years. With this type of school, you’ll gain the technical experience you need for a specific occupation.

Many people like trade schools because you don’t need to spend money or time on non-career related classes. Additionally, this is often the fastest route to jump-starting your career. Trade school is also extremely affordable, with tuition being as low as $3000.

Some popular trade school degrees include paralegal studies, plumbing, licensed practical nursing, welding, dental hygiene, computer technology, and graphic design.

You can check out this guide to learn about trade schools near me.

Which Will You Choose?

Now that you know a bit more about trade schools, community colleges, and universities, it’s time to decide which educational path is right for you.

Be sure to check back in with our blog for more educational-related news and tips.

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