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What are the Pros and Cons of a Vocational School Education?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Vocational schools differ from traditional colleges in that they're more career-focused rather than based on academics. The programs are also typically much shorter in vocational schools, or community colleges, than the four-year standard undergraduate degree ones offered at traditional learning institutions. Before deciding on pursuing a vocational school education, it's worth taking the time to weight the pros and cons of choosing this path over a traditional college program. Some of the pros of education from a vocational school are learning direct skills that can be applied to a career and being able to apply for a job in the field as early as six months in some cases. The cons of choosing vocational school is that the credits usually aren't as prestigious as those from a traditional college and they may not count as prerequisites if the student wishes to attend a traditional college later.

Since vocational schools typically only have minimum academic work and focus on hands-on training, a disadvantage is that their courses aren't considered academically on par with traditional colleges. As an advantage, or pro, though, most vocational school education programs require high school completion, or its equivalency, plus basic math and English skills rather than top grades. One of the disadvantages, or cons, of vocational schools is that the course credits earned may be transferable at other vocational schools, but not traditional colleges.

An advantage of vocational courses is, just like many college classes today, some of them may be taken online. Online learning via a computer allows students maximum convenience, as they can often schedule their class work around jobs, family and other commitments. An online vocational school education can also save student-parents time and transportation costs, as well as babysitting expenses.

Another big advantage of vocational school education over traditional college is the cost; the programs are much shorter as well as typically less expensive overall. Plus, as long as community colleges, or vocational schools, are properly accredited, student loans can still be applied in many cases. A con of vocational schools is that they don't have dorm rooms for students needing housing, but on the pro side, as they are community colleges, the daily commute can be much shorter than it is to get to traditional campuses.

A con to vocational eduction can be the competition for jobs against applicants with a traditional college degree. However, as many community colleges include hands-on work experience, this can be an advantage for applicants in getting hired. Vocational school education students typically enter career fields faster than their traditional college counterparts due to shorter programs. However, a con is that many of the vocational school careers are in lower-paying positions.

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Discussion Comments

By PelesTears — On Dec 25, 2010

@ Amphibious54- I used to live in a rural area of the North East, and vocational programs were very important for training students to enter the workforce. The truth is that most of the kids at the high school did not go off to college. Our local vocational technical schools trained students for a job in a year that would take those two to four to learn if they started as shop hands or clean-up crewmembers. They may not be as good on your resume as a college or university degree, but they are better than just a high school diploma.

By Amphibious54 — On Dec 24, 2010

I went to a high school that had a vocational school. Students could attend the vocational school in the last year or two of high school and graduate with a diploma and a vocational certificate certifying their capabilities. We had five or six programs if I remember correctly. Students could leave high school and jump right into good paying jobs in construction, landscaping, food service, auto repair, and computer technology. A number of local businesses would recruit students from the vocational program to work for them.

This was an excellent option for kids who did not focus heavily on their grades for the first few years, were not going to college, or were troublemakers in high school. The school also offered nighttime vocational education training for adults who wanted to learn a new skill.

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