So you are tired of your current job, or maybe you decided not to go to college after high school and are now thinking about going, or maybe you are graduating high school and looking into what college will be the best choice for you. Whatever the case may be for you, you have decided to look into colleges. You narrowed it down to wanting a two-year degree, but now you have to consider the many options for community colleges. Have you considered a trade school? Trade schools such as Universal Technical Institute, Arizona Automotive Institute, and even Carrington College, among others, are often overlooked when people are considering a college. When people think of college, trade schools can sometimes be forgotten or not considered a regular college. However, these schools can also offer degrees you may find at a community college, and usually in a faster time frame.

There are many factors to consider when picking what college is best for you. A 2017 Universal Technical Institute graduate, Michael, said “After high school, I wanted something different than a traditional school setting, but I still wanted to get a degree. At UTI, the schedule is also always the same with set class times every day. So, it allows for a more consistent schedule and the ability to hold more regular work hours outside of school.” Universal Technical Institute, or UTI, can offer consistency with your schedule, whereas a regular community college may have you going to class at different times each day, and even different days and times from semester to semester. Speaking on the regularity of the schedule, Michael said “The main programs offered by the school are broken into either morning or afternoon classes. The classes themselves are done 3 weeks at a time. You get a 30-minute lunch break each day and you go to school Monday through Friday. The days are about 5 hours long.” For some, hands-on learning is also something they look for when considering their schooling options, and trade schools may offer more hands-on learning than some traditional colleges do. “It’s usually 50/50 bookwork and hands-on learning. They try to make it as real-world as possible. That’s something I really enjoyed.” said Michael.

Along with the benefits of having a consistent schedule and hands-on learning, you get the opportunity to earn your degree while only taking classes directly related to your program. Regarding the class types, Michael shared “Unlike traditional colleges, you don’t have to take regular classes like reading, math, writing, and so-on. Instead, you learn these skills how they relate to your program.” Trade schools also can get you your degree faster than a traditional college, but for a price. Trade schools, such as UTI, typically cost more than a traditional community college. There are some other things to be aware of at trade schools, such as not usually getting summers off or winter breaks, where you normally do at a community college. The classes are also typically fast paced. Michael shared that at UTI “You have to have a good work ethic and determination. The classes really are fast and you have to keep up.” Taking a moment to reflect, he finished with “You just have to be prepared to kind of put your life on hold while you’re there since you don’t really get to take breaks.”

If the fast pace and the cost are not an issue for you, and you decide that a trade school may be for you, there can be upsides too. Having the ability to finish your degree quicker than a traditional school is a perk for many. Michael was able to receive an Associate of Occupational Studies degree in just under two years. At Universal Technical Institute, they also help the students with job placement leading up to their graduation, according to Michael. Within two years of graduating high school, Michael was able to obtain an Associate’s degree and a salary job as a heavy equipment diesel mechanic. Reflecting on his time at UTI, Michael said “It’s tough at first because of how different it is from a traditional school set up, but once you get the hang of it, it’s quick and fun.” So if traditional schooling may not be for you and you want to get your degree faster, with the sacrifice of some free time, trade schools may be a good option to look into when considering your college path, no matter what stage of life you are deciding to start or return to college.

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