The Watch Your Step Blog

Kyle Grappone, Public Speaker and Book Author

Do You Know What A Trade School Is?

From the moment we are born, the game plan for our education is the same. Attend school, obtain good grades, get into college, graduate, and find a job to support yourself. While attending school and financial independence are the correct beginning and end points, it’s the steps in the middle that society has gotten stubborn about.

Somewhere along the way, we decided that a college degree was a must for all high school graduates. After 12 years of encouraging students to be unique and creative, we turned around, put them all in the same bucket and convinced them that college is the only logical next step in their lives.

The issue here is, that we are encouraging students to fall in line. I speak often about deciding what type of person you want to become and becoming the first version of yourself. For some, a businessman or educator is exactly who they want to become. However, for others, a college classroom is the last place they should be spending their time and money. If you truly think about what type of person you want to be, and you come to the conclusion that you like to build things, work with your hands, and constantly move around than you owe it yourself to explore alternate options to further your education.

The dictionary refers to a trade school as a vocational school designed to give students the technical skills to prepare them for a specific occupation. In simple terms, a trade school will educate on real-life skills such as plumbing, construction, carpentry and much more. This type of institution will pay you to learn these valuable life skills that will translate into a job you enjoy doing and a life you are happy and proud to live. Furthermore, due to the cultural bias against trade schools, these skills will soon be in high demand.

In a 2016 Presidential debate, Senator Marco Rubio questioned why we as a society have stigmatized trade schools, adding “The world needs more welders and less philosophers.” While the second line got a good laugh, the question itself should be examined. Why is it that an educational path that offers paid apprenticeships, defined outcomes, and mentorship is not given equal weight and consideration to a standard college education? The notion that trade school graduates make less money is simply not true.

A recent study shows that graduates from both types of schooling can make roughly same after graduation. However, the average bachelor’s degree graduate leaves college with up to $30,000 in student loan debt. That’s a lot of money and debt to earn a job in something you don’t even enjoy doing.

Trade schools are not for everyone, and neither is college. However, when we encourage younger generations to think about their futures, we have to present all the options. Just because it worked for you does not mean it is meant for them. Furthermore, we need to remember it is their future’s, not ours, that they are planning for. As for students, they are the ones that must take time every day to think about what type of person they want to become. If you decide that the person you want to become has nothing to do with working in an office, then a trade school might be exactly what you are looking for.

About Kyle

Kyle is a youth/education public speaker, book author, and podcast host. His goal is to use these mediums to inspire high school and college students to think differently about the choices they are about to make and the next steps in their lives. Want to learn more? Visit me at! The views expressed in this blog, and all my content are mine and do not reflect the views and opinions of any companies and educational institutions I have had current or past connections with.

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