+
trade school, college, graduation
Photo by Alisa Reutova on Unsplash

Skilled workers are in short supply and fewer young people are choosing trade school track.

It’s graduation season and high school seniors are enduring their last few days of classes before the last summer of their childhood. The summer after high school ends is special, with graduation parties and friends getting ready to take off around the country to pursue their next path. Though many are off to university to make their, or their parents', dream come true, not every high school grad wants to go off to a four-year college. And schools don’t always do a good job in informing high schoolers of their choices outside of college and the military.

The conversation around college seems to start earlier than it used to. My own children started being asked about college plans around sixth grade, and the pressure has only mounted with every passing year. When my eighth grader announced in a school meeting that he already had a college and degree path chosen, the teachers were outwardly excited and praised him for knowing what he wanted to do. It's an awful lot of pressure to put on 12-14-year-olds.

College is expensive and financially unattainable for many families. The looming expense of a college education can lead to parents putting pressure on their children to perform exceptionally to procure highly competitive scholarships.


Pressure to perform at elite levels academically and in sports in an effort to reduce the cost of attending college can result in students feeling overwhelmed. My own child struggled under the weight of expectations he felt from teachers, until one day he came to me and quietly said, “I don’t think I want to go to college.” I simply replied “OK” before explaining that college doesn’t have to be everyone’s path and we could explore options outside of a four-year institution. The audible exhale from his lungs told me everything I needed to know at that moment.

Kids absorb many things that go unsaid. I never told him that it was expected that he go to college, but I also didn’t talk about other options, so in essence the message I was sending was that college is the only next step. My son became more and more consumed by the expectation to get near-perfect grades and excel at band and other things to secure a scholarship to schools he didn’t even want to attend. His story isn’t unique. Teens across America are suffocating under the pressure to perform for the grand prize of scholarships and a fancy piece of paper, all while trades are struggling to fill positions.

Photo by Enis Yavuz on Unsplash

People that do essential work in our homes and on our vehicles cannot fill positions because not enough students are exiting trade schools. Mechanics, welders, plumbers, electricians, every skilled trade you can think of is in a shortage because schools and parents don’t give trades the same attention as they do four-year college degree options. The median age of a skilled tradesperson is 43 and at the current rate many will retire in a little more than a decade’s time leaving more vacancies. Sure we want our children to succeed in life but a bachelor’s degree doesn’t automatically equal success. Skilled trades oftentimes pay more money than entry-level positions that require a four-year degree, so why aren’t we encouraging our children to explore these interests?

It seems as if America has gotten caught up in an endless loop of pushing and expecting college from students, only for students to graduate with exorbitant amounts of debt. Then the cycle repeats for the next generation. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Ultimately my son decided to change his track in high school from four-year college track to trade school track. This only affects the classes he will take for graduation. Instead of taking three years of a foreign language and four years of advanced math, he will get to skip the unnecessary classes and go straight into automotives. After graduating, he will have one year of credits toward the two-year automotive certification.

Attending the local community college will be a fraction of the price of a four-year college, and only require one additional year before he can go into the workforce. No debt would be acquired and he would be doing what he enjoys. This isn’t to say he can’t change his mind and decide later to attend a four-year university; we would support any path he chose. It’s just a reminder to listen to our words. Pay attention to the things we aren’t saying. Make our children aware of every option, not just the traditional track.

Photo by Josh Olalde on Unsplash


Attending a trade school is a valid option, not merely an alternative to college. Trade schools are higher education and shouldn’t be reserved for students adults think “aren’t cut out for college,” because the truth of the matter is, many trade school certificate holders are just as intelligent or more so than degree holders. We need to let go of preconceived notions about the trades and start focusing on what our children are good at and encourage the pursuit of that at whatever level they choose.

via PixaBay

Being an adult is tough.

This article originally appeared on 01.28.22


Nothing can ever fully prepare you for being an adult. Once you leave childhood behind, the responsibilities, let-downs and setbacks come at you fast. It’s tiring and expensive, and there's no easy-to-follow roadmap for happiness and success.

A Reddit user named u/Frequent-Pilot5243 asked the online forum, “What’s an adult problem nobody prepared you for?” and there were a lot of profound answers that get to the heart of the disappointing side of being an adult.

One theme that ran through many responses is the feeling of being set adrift. When you’re a kid, the world is laid out as a series of accomplishments. You learn to walk, you figure out how to use the bathroom, you start school, you finish school, maybe you go to college, and so on.

However, once we’re out of the school system and out from under our parents’ roofs, there is a vast, complicated world out there and it takes a long time to learn how it works. The tough thing is that if you don’t get a good head start, you can spend the rest of your life playing catch-up.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Joy and delight comin' at ya.

Photo by Count Chris on Unsplash

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

It's Awesome Animals Week at Upworthy! That's what I'm declaring anyway, as nine out of 10 of this week's things that made us smile include creatures being painfully cute or utterly hilarious.

It's not surprising that our furry, feathery and leathery friends so often make these lists. Pets are constant and consistent sources of joy in our lives and wildlife can be wonderfully entertaining.

There are a few humans thrown in here for good measure, though. I considered totally leaning in and only including things that included animals this week, but there was one animal-free video I simply couldn't not include. I saved it for last. You'll see.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by 傅甬 华 on Unsplash

Cats are far more badass than we give them credit for.

Cats have a reputation for being aloof and standoffish, like they're better than everyone and simply can't be bothered. Those of us who have cats know they're not always like that … but yes, they're sometimes like that. They can be sweet and affectionate, but they want affection on their terms, they want to eat and play and sleep on their own clock, and we puny, inferior humans have little say in the matter.

There's a reason why we have obedience schools for dogs and not for cats. Maine coon or Bengal, Savannah or Siamese, ragdoll or sphynx, domestic cats of all breeds are largely untrainable little punks who lure us into loving them by blessing us with the honor of stroking their fur and hearing them purr.

But perhaps we assume too much when we think cats are full of themselves for no good reason. Maybe they are actually somewhat justified in their snootiness. Maybe they really, truly are superior to pretty much every other creature on Earth and that's why they act like it.

Keep ReadingShow less