College or Trade School - What To Do?

College or Trade School - What To Do?

My dad worked for a municipality as a laborer and then as a skilled laborer. He put in 28 years and retired with a $4K monthly pension plus social security for the rest of his life. He did not go to college and was pretty broke, raising four kids for most of his life. But he knew he had that pension waiting for him. 

Now, life is good; he does whatever he wants and has no real responsibilities beyond hanging out with his grandkids.

My two older brothers are both trade guys as well. One is an electrician making over six figures a year now, but his income was around the $68 to $80K mark for the last ten years. My oldest brother retired from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant who worked in HVAC. He now collects his pension from the military and has a job at a government contractor doing, you guessed it, HVAC.

Then there is me—the unconventional, creative type. I don't say this to show off, but I'm the type that never really fits in. I'm running a six-figure online business based around YouTube, websites, freelance on Fiverr, and paid ads and email marketing while living abroad.

Should I go to college or trade school?

My family is diverse regarding being average, working class, or wealthy. I have an uncle who was a truck driver who passed away a few years ago; my dad, as I just mentioned, was a laborer, and my other uncle (my dad has two brothers) was a wealthy executive at a corporation. 

I also have a cousin with a Ph.D. in accounting who is currently a well-compensated university professor (200K+ a year). My two other cousins (whose dad was the truck driver) are millionaire VP of marketing. Then, my other cousin (whose brother is a university professor) works as a security guard. Yeah, really. That is an extreme of a difference.

The trades are only for some; same with the corporate life, same with trying to figure out your own thing. As someone who has helped young men with this blog, here's some advice to help you make a clear assessment on moving forward.

First, don't permanently screw up your life.

Avoid catastrophe. We all know what that looks like. Have you ever watched "You Are the Father" from Maury Povich's early 2000's talk show? You see the life drain out of some young man's eyes the moment he realizes he got some random girl he's not even into pregnant. 

You see his hopes and dreams die in real-time. Gone is that potential every young person has. Now you're a dad, and you have a kid and a promiscuous girl you don't love who doesn't love you.  

That's a form of catastrophe.

Say no to drugs, kids. 

I never did drugs, not even pot. Pot is typically for losers, and it's always a "pot guy" who's fat with no money to argue why the bank is not that bad. Go light on the drinking, too; it is good to know what you can handle and if you're a potential alcoholic. However, drinking is far more dangerous than we give it credit. 

In short, don't do anything stupid before you try to make the "right choice." First things first, avoid catastrophe. 

Then consider the following:

Trades will be in demand; college leads to nonsense jobs.

Half of my family did trade jobs and thought office jobs must be more accessible. Trades are hard on the knees. But most college grad jobs are "bullshit jobs." It's fake, and that takes a different toll.

Do you want a job that's fake? You show up to an office, converse with a bunch of midwits who don't realize they're mediocre, and all pretend to be doing work? When I worked at PWC, I worked with the best of the best, so it is possible to be around high-quality people in an office setting. But for most, that's not going to be your reality.

As an English teacher, I was stuck with losers who had no ambition and did not realize they were losers. At most office jobs, you miss out on the desire in your heart to feel like you've accomplished something. Trades at least offer a sense of honest work and feeling like you did something.

Last, there is no denying that we will face a population crisis in the coming decades. 

You'll want to have that ground wire installed,

You may need someone to fix a backyard retaining wall. 

You'll need a tradesperson for that. Becoming a skilled worker who maintains society will have you in high demand.

Men are lucky because they have more time.

You can take time to figure life out, be a loser in your 30s, and then turn 40; no one cares what you were before. I get it, you don't want to waste time, but you don't have to choose a life path at freaking 18 years old. 

I struggled outright in my 20s. From PWC with a high income to no income and trying to figure something else out. Then, I went to Thailand in my late 20s to be a perpetually broke English teacher (enjoying life, just had no money) to finally get my income sorted in my mid-30s.

When young men ask, "Should I go to college," I always ask myself, "Will college be there in a year?"

Yes, obviously. 

So take a year for yourself. Read. Lift. Work. Don't make a costly mistake you can't come back from. Take a year off, save money, travel, and get out into the world a bit away from your parents.

I was so obsessed with money and success. 

Air Force Reserve, college, then a full-time 60+ hour corporate job for a few years. I wish I had gone abroad to teach English earlier, traveled more, and enjoyed being young. Instead, I got a two-week vacation for the next 20 years in my early 20s. Congratulations on being successful!

We are taught as children to earn A+ grades. The prize of "success" in the system is a job where you could get fired, no vacation, and stress. But when you're young, you can work part-time, goof off, and lean into hobbies. College will be there if you don't get someone pregnant or earn yourself a criminal record.

How much money do you need if you're a young single man? 

Almost nothing. Men say, "We don't have coming-of-age traditions," but yes, we do. Your job is to work enough to feed yourself, pay rent, and live. Then, build yourself up and create a good life. Then, invite a woman in once you're established.

 As a man, you should be building a life for yourself first. Why do you think the system tells you to choose a major when you're 18 and that you have failed if you work with your hands? They want all your energy used to become a productive cog in the system rather than to build yourself up into a dynamic man with a life choice.