A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Is college the only option for seniors?

For many twelfth graders, senior year is where some of the most important decisions of their lives might be made. But just how much are kids forced into a future they’re not sure about?

At Curie, the pressure for seniors to have a plan post high school is immense. Although the amount of options for students are limitless, it seems that there’s only one way in Curie. That way is attending a college in fall.

College is not always the answer for all students. Some seniors might be being pushed into a future that they do not want. College and university tuitions are expensive. Considering this, instead of leading students to a bright future, staff might be leading the to a dark and debt full future.

Every year, Curie seniors are forced to sign a contract in September as a condition of graduation. The contract consists of many requirements that need to be met, including applying to at least three colleges and fully completing FAFSA.

One option that is not always recommended by teachers or counselors is trade school. According to New Castle School of Trades, trade schools (also known as a technical school or vocational school) are educational institutions that exists teaches skills related to a specific job. For some students, trade school is a far better option than college.

Trade school might be for someone that likes to work hands on. In fact, it could cost a lot less than attending college or university. Reporter Trent Hamm compared both options and wrote, “The average trade school degree costs $33,000, which, compared to a $127,000 bachelor’s degree, means a savings of $94,000.”

Another advantage of graduating from trade school is school time. Graduation comes a lot sooner than it would if you were at a university. Most trade schools often lend you a hand after graduation. This means that soon after your graduation you’ll be working in your field.

There are lots of trade schools around the country. Most help you with employment upon graduation. A well-respected trade school in Chicago is Coyne College. Coyne College offers electrical programs which, according to the school, can be completed in 78 weeks.

For students who aren’t sure about learning a trade, another good option to consider is the military. The United States military offers great benefits to young teens pursuing careers. Even though the military isn’t for everyone, some teens have good reasons to join. Some might not have the financial stability to attend college; the military has got you covered.

The United States Marine Corp (USMC) offers amazing benefits for the enlisted. More information can be found online on their websites. They try to make the lives of the enlisted easier. For example, USMC website states, “Housing, insurance, salary and other benefits are provided but are not as important as retaining the respect and benefits earned by keeping this nation safe and free as a Marine.”

Qualifications are basic, and pay is above basic. After recruit training, most recruits graduate with the rank of a Private. A Marine at the age of nineteen can be making a lot more money than grown adults in the civilian world. A trusted military website, military-ranks.org, states, “A Private is a junior enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at DoD paygrade E-1. A Privately receives a monthly basic pay salary starting at $1,600 per month, with raises up to $1,600 per month once they have served for over 2 years.” Considering the salaries of enlisted people are tax-free, and that the military pays for housing, insurance, clothing, and food, the pay is not bad at all.

The counselors at Curie need to remember that school is a great option, but it’s not for everyone, and it’s definitely not the only option.