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Beware the many pitfalls of trade schools

Trade schools, as opposed to the traditional four-year universities and colleges, have become more popular as tuition rates skyrocket. Students know they are likely to graduate with usable skills, making the investment more worthwhile. There are many pitfalls with trade schools, however, that don't receive much publicity. If you're considering a trade school, here are four things you need to know:

They're not always cheaper: Trade schools aren't necessarily a big bargain. The New York Times recently ran an expose revealing how technical schools and other for-profit schools are sold as a product. Unfortunately, it's a product that costs $14,000 and up and won't necessarily pay off.

No job guarantee: Although trade school graduates do learn practical skills, students really are on their own when it comes time to find work. Despite what such schools may advertise, a degree won't automatically result in employment. Of course, the same is true of Ivy League schools. The difference is that nonprofits rarely guarantee high placement rates.

The fact is, your success depends on what you do with the degree. If you don't have a career path planned, don't interview well and don't have a concrete vision why you deserve a specific job, you're no better off than a student fresh out of high school. Degrees from trade schools are credentials that add to your portfolio of other credentials. They're not a golden ticket to riches.

Know before you go: Trade school may be the perfect thing if you aren't interested in the academic aspect of schooling. Although a well-rounded education may increase your general knowledge of how the world works, it isn't all that career-focused. There are various programs in hundreds of trade schools across the country that cover the skills you need for a specific career. A few examples are culinary arts, nursing, pharmacy and Web design.

Flexible schedules: Unlike four-year university programs, trade schools offer more options for those who still need to work or raise families. Trade schools usually allow you to attend night classes, use online courses or attend minisemesters to avoid the four-month semester that typifies traditional schools.

Beware the many pitfalls of trade schools 09/02/12 [Last modified: Sunday, September 2, 2012 5:30am]

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