The new administration is promoting college alternatives as a cheaper, faster way of achieving an education.
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College education under the new administration is changing. Traditionally, college means a four-year program, living in dorms and competitive sports. However, the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has recently started pushing for college alternatives. This can be vocational or trade training and credentialing programs that can be completed in a year. The typical college experience is morphing into a new platform.

What are the changes?

College students today are rarely solely in school. Most will have part-time jobs. I, myself, am a graduate student with a part-time internship, as well as working as an actor. Most millennial college students do not just have a focus on school, which is a different mindset from our parents. Graduates are also obtaining degrees in more professional careers. For example, students are focusing on business and nursing degrees because they are leading to more stable environments.

Millennials are also largely only applying to schools with guaranteed entry, meaning Ivy League schools are seeing fewer applications. This decline could be due to the costs of education. Sometimes, it’s better to play it safe. Rather than gambling on a more selective, expensive institution, students are preferring to avoid all uncertainty.

College alternatives

For students in high school or for those wanting to start college after a gap year, there are alternatives to tradition — trade schools are quickly becoming a more viable option. Enrolling in a trade school to learn manufacturing skills can be enormously beneficial. The U.S. manufacturing industry needs new workers trained in the newest technology. Major manufacturing plants have been recruiting millennials with trade degrees because they value their innovative skill set.

Vocational training is also becoming more popular. This training can be finished in two years and covers a wide variety of jobs, such as dental hygienist, cosmetologist, electrician or pharmacy technician. These programs are strict training for these careers and are much cheaper than a traditional education, meaning less debt and quicker entry into the workforce.

Takeaway

Getting a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. can be very expensive. Even with grants, scholarships and student work programs, most cannot afford the cost. But with vocational and trade schools becoming the lead college alternative, the education system is reshaping. You do not need a four-year degree to be considered educated or successful anymore. A new House bill is aiming to accommodate these alternatives and re-define the pathway to success. College students are changing, and the workplace will soon follow. Cheaper, shorter programs in specific fields may soon become the new normal.

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Posted 01.19.2018 - 11:00 am EDT