Why an Honors Student Wants to Skip College and Go to Trade School

By Douglas Belkin, The Wall Street Journal

College vs Technical | JEFF SWENSEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL image

Raelee Nicholson earns A’s in her honors classes at a public high school south of Pittsburgh and scored in the 88th percentile on her college boards.

But instead of going to college, Ms. Nicholson hopes to attend a two-year technical program that will qualify her to work as a diesel mechanic. Her guidance counselor, two teachers and several other adults tell her she’s making a mistake.

“My dentist told me to (work on cars) as a hobby, but she kept telling me with my potential I should really go to college,” said Ms. Nicholson, a junior at Charleroi Area High School in western Pennsylvania.

The friction around the best path forward after high school is popping up around the country as anxious students and families try to figure out how to pay for four years of college. At the same time, business groups and state governments make the case for a free or much cheaper vocational education.

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