Trade Schools Rise in Popularity

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Recent polls are showing that trade schools are growing in popularity among recent graduates of four-year institutions. Young adults that don't get jobs right after college are enrolling in trade schools to become anything from airplane pilots to hairdressers to graphic designers, and paralegal school enrollment is also on the rise.

"We have become the new graduate school," Irene Kovala, interim vice president for academic affairs at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Once thought of as less adequate than four-year universities, trade schools are seeing an improved reputation as more and more college graduates get jobs upon graduating with these one- or two-year degrees.

Stephanie Johnson, an Apple Valley, MN, resident, received her bachelor's degree in political science from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. However, after graduation, the only jobs she was getting interviewed for were administration positions with salaries that she could not live on.

That was when Johnson first got the idea of going to paralegal school. Currently, she is enrolled in Inver Hills Community College's paralegal program with plans to graduate next May. She is also currently working at a local law firm and has hopes of earning a salary of $45,000 after she has been working as a paralegal for a couple years.

While some may look at Johnson and feel that she is wasting her college degree, the opposite is actually true. Law firms and employers in general place a high value on four-year degrees, and applicants with four-year degrees are many times chosen over those without. Many hiring managers believe that completing a bachelor's degree shows both perseverance and dedication.

According to an article on www.calpro-online.org titled "Benefits of Vocational Education," "Technical employment is the fastest-growing segment of the labor market.... Most technical work will not require a four-year college degree. Only 25% of all technical work requires a four-year or graduate degree. The fastest-growing piece of the high-skill, high-wage technical workplace is occupations that require an associate's degree."

With that in mind, if you are considering enrolling in a paralegal program or know someone who is, I say go for it! Your future awaits!

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