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A technical/trade school or a traditional university education?



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Question:
A technical/trade school or a traditional university education?

It seems more and more that employers prefer the experience to the education, you actually knowing what you are doing opposed to a degree with limited hands on.


Answer:
To some extent it depends on the type of occupation that you are interested in. Some of the occupations are quite skill-based and they might best be learned in a trade or technical school (and you couldn't find these programs at four year colleges). Some occupations--engineering, for example--you can only enter with a four-year degree.

Others are increasingly seeking persons with a broader education. For example, nurses are increasingly obtaining a bachelor's degree in nursing as entry level and as a requirement for advancement in the field. More persons in construction management, for example, are seeking four year degrees. Many businesses look for managers who have MBA degrees, which are earned following graduation from a four year school.

It also depends on what you want from a higher education. A higher education has traditionally meant learning not just a major area of study but also broad learning in arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. It has meant being in a learning community where you can meet and interact with people from different regions, belief systems, points of view. It meant having your current beliefs challenged--not necessarily to change all your beliefs, but to encourage you to examine why you believe what you believe and how you can actively pursue your beliefs and values. I think that this is one of the important parts of a four year degree program. It helps you be more aware of the world, understand more of what people talk about, and appreciate art, music, etc. This is what higher education really is. It isn't exactly straight job skills, but it does help you learn skills that translate well to a job.

For example, the skills that most employers are looking for have to do with things such as analytical ability, ability to communicate, to do research, to solve problems, and to understand others. These skills are commonly called transferrable skills because they "transfer" to any job. Take a look here for a more in-depth discussion of transferrable skills: http://www.quintcareers.com/job_skills_v...

With regard to experience, it isn't necessarily that employers prefer experience to education, its that they want both, and new graduates may not have the experience that employers want. But there are ways to get this experience while you are a student. There is cooperative education--where you alternate semesters of study with job placements. There is volunteer work, student organization leadership, summer jobs, internships and service learning. All are ways that you can get experience. Oftentimes internships and service learning end up leading to jobs with the companies or agencies in which you did your internship.



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