Deciding where to start after high school can be challenging: here’s some tips for choosing your path!
It’s October! That means it’s finally time for Halloween! And that also means the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now open!
You can complete the FAFSA at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.
As the new year approaches, now is the time that many seniors (including myself!) are faced with some questions: what happens next? Should I attend a community college, 4-year college, or trade school? How do I know what path is right for me?
I interviewed Ms. Crystal Maxwell, the career coach at Benton High School, to find some guidance.
“Some things to consider… are the amount of money you’re willing to spend, or debt you are willing to accrue for your education.”
“Some things to consider when choosing [between community college, 4-year college, or trade school] are the amount of money you are willing to spend, or debt you are willing to accrue for your education,” Maxwell said, “If you know you want to get to work right away and not sit in a classroom for four more years, trade school may be for you. You can go learn a valuable trade that can start earning you a salary within six months.”
These days, society puts a lot of focus on college education, but trade school can be a great opportunity to learn a skill and get a secure career. It can also save you money. It is very possible to earn a higher salary with training at trade school than with a college degree.
“There are a lot of factors that go into this. For example, I have a 4-year degree and work in education. A person that is a welder will attend a trade school for 6-8 months and has the potential to make a lot more money than my yearly salary,” Maxwell added. “You can go to school to become an engineer and make more money than someone that took an apprenticeship to become an electrician. The engineer may have a lot of debt, if there were no scholarships or aid, and the electrician was paid to attend classes and work.”
Your financial wellness does not always depend on what type of education you get. Scholarships and financial aid play a vital role in cost and debt.
“Make sure you apply for everything. Make sure you are checking the deadline. Make sure you are looking at the qualifications you may need to receive a certain scholarship.”
“Make sure you apply for everything. Make sure you are checking the deadline. Make sure you are looking at the qualifications you may need to receive a certain scholarship. Apply for financial aid, even if you think your family ‘makes too much.’ Apply anyway,” Maxwell said. “Most scholarships require that you have this application filled out, and sometimes you may get aid. There is a formula the federal government uses that involves a lot of other criteria on how they award funding. Apply for the Arkansas Challenge scholarship. Talk with your parents, counselors, and career coach about financial aid and scholarships. Check if there is a scholarship through your parents’ work, banking institution, and church. Sometimes these places will have scholarships available.”
“DO NOT STRESS!!! You have time to make this decision.”
I asked Ms. Maxwell what advice she would give to students stressing over deciding on a college or career.
“DO NOT STRESS!!!” she emphasized, “You have time to make this decision. It is okay not to know right now. Take all the right steps to put yourself in a good position to attend college but knowing absolutely every move you will make in the future is impossible. So, don’t stress.”