The Trades vs. College


Automotive teacher Mr. Andrew Fischer gives tips to student working on a car. Fischer refrains from doing the work, rather instructing the student on how to do it.

Madison Re

Trade school has long been the taboo of schools. Since elementary school, a four-year college plan has always been pushed and promoted by schools. As kids, we are exposed to the idea of college and college only. Trade school is often not even mentioned to us as an option until high school, and even then, it is given very little coverage.  

“I don’t think the trades get enough coverage.  A lot of schools and a lot of career vocational setups, they’re not exposed to anything outside of the four year degree, yet nobody comes in and talks to [students],” Mr. Andrew Fischer, Automotive Technology, said.

Mr. Andrew Fischer, Lake Central’s new automotive teacher, worked as an automotive technician for 15 years, a diesel transmission technician for three years and worked drivability, where he would drive the car to find out exactly what is wrong and then address the problem, and did performance work right out of tech school. He has also worked with seasonal technicians as an instructor, but this program is his first educational and teaching job.  

“It is different, learning to step back and not try to jump in and get my hands dirty, that’s a huge learning curve [for me],” Fischer explained.

The trades have seen a huge gap in the qualified, eligible workers ready for hire. Throughout the years, trade school has seen less coverage and college has been pushed more.

“For years, everybody’s pushed a four-year college education. From a parent’s standpoint, they didn’t think there was any money to be made for their students outside of a four-year degree. Nobody talks about the statistics with [trade school] as far as the opportunities that are available and the college versus trade school cost difference would be there, versus what they’re going to make when they get out of school,” Mr. Fischer said.

Once leaving school, vocational or college based, the goal is to make a comfortable salary, succeed, and improve.  

“Most people are going to school trying to make money when they get out.  That’s the premise of it anyways. After you finish [college], you start off and have to build up to making a good salary. Usually in the trades, you don’t see the difference in one year, two years [or even] three years,” Mr. Fischer said.

Trade school can be cheaper than college, and Fischer explained that some employers will pay for you to go to trade school so that they can hire you.  

School is not one size fits all. In elementary school, most kids are grouped together, by middle school there is a slight separation, and by high school, there are many alternative classes. There are normal classes, advanced classes and classes that you can take everyday to get more help. Just because college is pushed and stressed on students all throughout high school doesn’t necessarily mean that college is the only or best choice for you as a student.

“Part of my job is to try to figure out my student’s career path or shoes and you know, some have degree based programs and some don’t, some are four years, some or two years, some are just a year and a half you it’s our job long with parents to try to help steer them into the correct school best fit for them. Because let’s face it, math, science, English isn’t isn’t strong spots for everybody,” Mr. Fischer said.

Taking vocational classes in high school can allow people to explore new possibilities and try new things. Starting at the high school level can give the most amount of time to try hands-on learning. The classes offered in high school can give people the chance to figure out specific interests as well as open up opportunities to them.