Trade School, College or Military?: The Choice is Yours 

Kitana Ford , Proofreader

The discordant ticking of the clock heightens as the days dwindle down and graduation nears. A sudden rush of uneasiness wavers over students as the pressure to decide what to do after high school intensifies. Images of dorm rooms, the gates of a trade school and life on the barracks with a rifle in hand arise.

With college comes challenging aspects such as meeting the requirements for admission, financial aid, grants and scholarships.

Such requirements will vary depending on the college as some will be more vigorous than others. The general requirements will expect one to complete four years of math and English, three years of lab sciences, two years of social science and foreign language and one year of a fine art or career and technical education (CTE) credit. Brandy Rideout, a staff member at ASU, states that other requirements you might have to meet include: class rank, GPA on a 4.0 scale or SAT and ACT scores, all of which will be specified by each college.

Additionally, financial aid is available to students who find themselves struggling with the finances of college. Forms of financial aid include: scholarships, grants, federal work-study and loans. All of these are awarded by colleges through a FAFSA, which can be filled out and sent to your college of choice.

Correspondingly, grants are awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional financial need, which they are not required to pay back.

Likewise, scholarships can also be awarded on the basis of financial need and require no payback. However, they are also awarded by merit—GPA, ACT or SAT scores and/or class rank can determine who is awarded.

On the other hand, trade schools offer students the ability to learn about their career hands-on. As for admissions, they are fairly open as many trade schools have a high acceptance rate. Specialties offered are information technology, nursing and health sciences, automotive technician and medical assisting. Although program lengths vary, they range from eight months to two years.

Infographic courtesy of: Kitana Ford

Suzanne Strader, staff at Electronic Fuel Injection University, explains that the difference between a trade school and college is their purpose. “The difference will be that their efforts will be pinpointed to the exact focus that they are passionate about. Trade schools reduce the cost and time and assist in job placement.”

In contrast, the military enforces stricter requirements and offers benefits as well. Requirements include passing the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), being a high school graduate or having your GED and meeting physical and moral qualifications. To elaborate further, physical qualifications include a routine exam to check for any factors that hinder someone’s ability to serve. Moral qualifications include having no criminal history, no problems at school and no problems with law enforcement.

Benefits provided include holistic pay, money for college, living in the barracks, meals, full medical insurance, travel opportunity, thirty days paid vacation every year and a housing allowance to live on or off post.

Furthermore, before a student becomes a soldier, they must go through the recruiting, enlisting and training processes.

Photo credit: Kitana Ford
Covered in camouflage from head to toe with the words “U.S. Army” scrawled across their chests, the recruiters stand. As the men part their lips to speak, a sense of pride becomes apparent in their faces. Sergeants Aloysius Domme (left) and Timothy Schider (right) stand proudly in the Army recruiting office as they recite words of wisdom. “You can be successful in the military, and it will not involve anyone else. It’s you as an individual who determines your own success in the military,” Domme said.


The recruiting process involves a general conversation with a recruiter about your options and a group of questions to determine your background.

Additionally, the enlistment process involves other aspects such as commitment to the military and the Future Soldier Training Program. The Future Training Soldier Program prepares enlistees for basic training through physical training and an extensive online course. Sergeant Aloysius Domme, a recruiter in Lake Havasu, defines the course as a method to lay the foundation for basic training through the acquiring of knowledge of first aid, basic rifle marksmanship, military customs and courtesy and land navigation.

The training process includes two different types of basic training. The first type is traditional basic training which lasts around 9 weeks. However, the army is transitioning to a longer training to create more adaptable soldiers which will last around 13 weeks. The second type is one station unit training, which is primarily for combat arms—infantryman, field artillery, armor and air defense.

Ultimately, as the time to make a decision nears, there are several options for post-high school.