College or Technical Certification? Why not both?

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I’m heading off to visit my cousin for her graduation in New York City. She is going to be an Registered Nurse and I’m excited for her. She has worked and gone to school to achieve her goal. I’m happy to be invited and to hang out with her. It’s an 8 hour drive to get there and we’re leaving after work tonight,so I’ll be a bit tired.

The Case for a Technical Certification First

Today I decided to share a post from a relative who calls himself ‘Red Zebra’. (We need better names.) I asked him what was his plans for education after high school and here was his response:

In four weeks from now I’ll be done with my CATV certification. It is basically a 12-week course (8 hours days) that helps me get a job in the telecommunication field. I’m working with fiber optic cables and there are three career paths that this course is covering in its curriculum. (( Note: The average pay for entry level in his city is $18-22/hour.) They even assist in getting you a job if you’re a good student. The cost? $150 for the classes and supplies.

Although I have completed a semester in architecture technology, I wanted to take this course so I can get a higher paying job sooner rather than later. I do plan on going back to college, first online; then full time once I put aside enough money to cover my education and plan it out better.

The only set back of getting a certification is my end goal, to be an RA (Registered Architect), is further off than I planned. But I’m not stressing about it too much since I’m not even 20 yet.

Red Zebra

I think that there are valid reasons for getting a certification even if you want a 4 (or more) year degree. College is getting more expensive and it’s more common to see college students work. If you can get a certification while in high school, I say go for it.

If you can find a decent paying job while going to school, then it relieves some pressure. I wished I had done this in high school, but at the time you couldn’t get an ‘advanced’ diploma and go to the vocational school with taking longer than 4 years. Now, of course, there are a dozen certifications you can get while in high school and prepare for college.

How did you finance college? How would you do it differently? Any advice for ‘Red Zebra?

4 Responses to College or Technical Certification? Why not both?

  1. I think Red Zebra’s plan sounds like a good one. Lots of community colleges offer courses online which can then be transferred to other colleges for credit. I’ve thought about taking some computer courses, possibly getting certified, now that I’m out of college. But I haven’t yet found a program that makes me say “Ok yes, this is the one.”

  2. I would say that Red Zebra should consider some other benefits of college in his or her decision-making. College taught me how to think critically, and I’m not sure that I would have been able to hone that ability as well in any other context. In addition, college was the only time in my life that I’ve had the luxury of exploring different possible fields of study to figure out where my interests and talents lay.

    I do empathize with the challenge of financing education. I was lucky: I worked part-time all the way through school to pay for my books and living expenses and part of my tuition was covered by scholarships, but my parents paid for the difference so I graduated without any debt.

    Thanks for your kind thoughts about my dad. Much appreciated.

  3. @ Mrs. Micah: Yeah, I’m a bit jealous of him. 🙂 Now I’m have student loans to pay. 🙁

    @ F.Z. It is hard to finish college without loans. He got down that college was too expensive and he’s hoping this certification will help him.

  4. I financed the tuition through scholarships. The housing, books, and food I financed with student loans ad the occasional part time job. When I finally got an on campus job it really helped…as I could study and get paid a decent amount.

    If I were to do it again, I wouldn’t have used all my student loans so freely.

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