Alternative Paths to College
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 66 percent of High School Seniors enroll into college the following fall. The other 44 percent either wait a year or so to enroll, work, or join the military. High School puts a great emphasis on college and college-readiness. But what about the students who are opting out of college or choosing to wait a year to enroll?
According to the Bureau of of Labor Statistics, construction workers make an average of $16.43 per hour.
Noah Glazebrook is a Batavia High School student choosing an alternative path to college. The lower 10 percent of roofers make $11.26 per hour, while the upper 90% can earn up to $29.44 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average starting hourly wage for a recent college graduate is about $16.81.
Just as high school kids are researching colleges and exploring majors, Glazebrook is doing something similar.
“Well I have done my fair share of research on the trade, and I have talked to a few people who have been a roofer about the job. I also have a job lined up where I am going,” said Glazebrook.
Although being a roofer does not require secondary education, it does require a high school diploma, and an apprenticeship. Other well-known apprenticeship jobs include piercers, tattoo artist, electricians, and construction workers.
Many people see college as a must to have a good life, make a decent living, and to support a family. But Glazebrook’s occupational decision is also setting him up for success.
“It’s a union job and they pay by the square, so that basically means I’ll be making $25- 40/hr depending on how fast and hard I work,” he said. “That is enough to start up a family in an apartment and then eventually buy a house which is my goal”.
Glazebrook is also well taken care of.
“The benefits are health insurance, good pay, I don’t know if I’ll get PTO which by god I hope I do. The drawbacks are the fact that I will be on a hot black roof in 120 degree weather in Florida with jeans on or bringing 3 bundles of shingles up a ladder”.
College degrees are always a gamble. There may be not enough jobs available for the major. Or the major could eventually become irrelevant. But there are also some risks with labor,
“ It will be hard and my body will mess up at some point,” Glazebrook said. “I am going to end up like my father, with the messed up shoulder, or my uncle with the broken back, for you only fall once”.
High school has an emphasis on college prep, which may not pertain to those who are not college bound. But there is some unexpected importance in college prep for the trades students.
“The college prep is not over emphasized because I would have used the trigonometry if I went into the trade I wanted to so college prep is necessary for some trades. I just feel students should have more autonomy over their class choices because for roofing I’m going to want to have taken Algebra and Spanish, not American Lit and History”.
High school is not always the precursor to secondary education. There are many choices and opportunities after high school rather than secondary education. Either choice can be a reasonable decision for your future.