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

Vocational schools are different from traditional colleges in that they focus on careers rather than academics. In vocational schools or community colleges, programs are typically much shorter than the four-year standard undergraduate degree programs offered at traditional learning institutions. Before deciding on a vocational school education over a traditional college program, it’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option. 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 are some of the benefits of vocational education. The disadvantages of attending vocational school include the fact that the credits earned are usually not as prestigious as those earned at a traditional college, and they may not count as prerequisites if the student later wishes to attend a traditional college.

Because vocational schools typically only require a minimum amount of academic work and place a greater emphasis on hands-on training, their courses are not considered academically equivalent to those offered traditional colleges. However, rather than top grades, most vocational school education programs require high school completion or equivalency, as well as basic math and English skills. One of the disadvantages, or drawbacks, of vocational schools is that the credits earned may transfer to other vocational schools but not to traditional colleges.

Vocational courses have the advantage of being able to be taken online, just like many college classes today. Students can often schedule their class work around jobs, family obligations, and other commitments when learning online via a computer. In addition to saving time and money on transportation and babysitting, an online vocational school education can save student-parents money.

Another significant benefit of vocational school education over traditional college education is the cost; programs are typically shorter and less expensive overall. Furthermore, student loans can be used in many cases as long as community colleges or vocational schools are properly accredited. The lack of dorm rooms for students in need of housing is a disadvantage of vocational schools; however, because they are community colleges, the daily commute can be much shorter than it is at traditional campuses.

The competition for jobs against applicants with a traditional college degree can be a disadvantage of vocational education. However, because many community colleges offer hands-on work experience, applicants may have an advantage in getting hired. Due to shorter programs, vocational school students typically enter career fields faster than their traditional college counterparts. However, many of the vocational school careers are in lower-paying positions, which is a disadvantage.