College "not worth it" for growing number of high school student - FOX34 Lubbock

College "not worth it" for growing number of high school students

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Is college really worth it? It is a question more and more high schoolers are asking themselves. 

For Andrew Higdon, who is in his final semester of diesel mechanic school at South Plains College, it was not. 

"You pay a few thousand here and then you pay tens of thousands for a degree," Higdon said. "You get out of school with a degree hoping to find something but here you get out of school and you're already somewhere and you can move up from where you're at once you graduate."

Higdon says he has known for a long time that a standard four year degree and a white collar job was not for him.

"I realized what I really wanted to do something with construction or Ag something like that," he said. "After I got out of high school I worked a few jobs and wasn't happy with the money I was making and realized I really needed to go back to school to get something done, make some money."

Like so many of his peers he went back to school to learn a trade. These students are more likely to be hired than their counterparts with a bachelors degree according to the National Center for Education Statistics. 

"The largest demand is not for four year baccalaureate degrees," said Rob Blair, Dean of Technical Education at SPC. "I mean there's lots of four year degree people that are going to work and making good money but the largest demand that we see in the workers and the really skilled workers are from technical degrees."

Blair said because of this demand and the fact more students are changing their outlook, schools are changing how they are teaching your children. For instance, high schools around Lubbock are partnering with community colleges and trade programs to tailor classes to prepare students for post secondary school.

"We work with all of those high schools and these high schools are starting those students out in good, beginning course work to where we are aligned with them through articulation agreements where students come to South Plains College and earn college credit while in high school and then we take them, give them credit for the courses they've earned in high school and transcribe it toward certificates and associates degrees at SPC," he said.

One of those schools is Roosevelt High.

"If you want to go to college we're going to get you ready to go to college," said Jimmy Ledbetter, Principal of Roosevelt. "If college isn't for you that's ok we're going to get you ready to go into the work force or go into a secondary program where you can get your certificate within a couple years and then you're in the work force."

It is not just traditional blue collar jobs such as auto shop students are being trained for. This year Roosevelt ISD completed an overhaul of its kitchen to better prepare kids for a culinary future. They also offer graphic design and other more technical programs.

For Higdon it was these programs and the ones he has been taking at SPC that have prepared him for a future career as a diesel mechanic. 

"I learn stuff here in class, I go to work and it's the exact same so I learn something here, go to work and there's no learning how to do it or nothing like that," Higdon said.

He is currently working on semi trucks. After graduation in December he wants to work for Caterpillar or John Deer, companies he said make the West Texas economy tick.

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