University Vs Technical College – a career choice

31 Mar

If you can identify with the view that “Universities might give the degrees, but it’s life that gives the education” , then your career choice will probably be better enhansed by attending a technical or vocational college rather than a university.

Let me explain.

Vocational or Higher Ed. learning
While both of these educational institutions exist to facilitate learning, they each do so by using an entirely different approach. In large part, universities issue industry memberships in the form of qualifications, whereas technical and vocational qualifications focus more on giving you confidence and competency to sucessfully apply a specific skill-set. These colleges are often called ‘Vocational’ or are said to be located in the VET sector of education, whereas universities are usually categorized as being in the Higher Ed. sector.

Many industries, particularly the professions like accounting, medicine, architecture and law, all require a university degree as a pre-requisite (membership) to joining their associations. However, there are many other industries, like the trades, Information Technology, health, retail and hospitality, that are far more interested in your ability to confidently and competently perform a task, than what qualification or ‘piece of paper’ you might have.

So, the choice of whether to go to university or a technical college is pretty much made for you based on the career choice that you wish to pursue. If the focus of your career choice is on joining an association that will open the door to advance your career, then a university course is for you. If not, then a technical education will possibly be far more appropriate and useful for you.

As I have previously explained, if you wish to work in one of the professions or work for the government, then your career would be greatly enhanced by a university qualification, whereas private enterprise generally look for people with the applied skill sets that has been enhanced by the technical college learning approach.

Learning preference test

As a further assessment, to determine which learning institution is right for you, answer the following ten questions;

  • Does my career industry prefer (1) qualifications with knowledge and understanding or (2) skill-sets with appropriate attitudes
  • Would I prefer to learn by (1) an academic discipline or (2) training and experience
  • I am usually best at (1) words, logic, math or intuition/reflection or (2) judging distance/size, music, sports or engaging with people
  • I am looking for this education to (1) lead to even higher educational qualifications or (2) secure a promotion within the industry
  • I would prefer to (1) completely conceptualize a subject or (2) successfully apply the knowledge
  • I would prefer to (1) be able to intellectually grasp ideas or (2) be able to produce solutions to workplace problems
  • My attitude to learning is (1) I am prepared to put in the time now and benefit in the future or (2) I want to learn things that I can successfully apply to a work environment today.
  • Which would you prefer your learning to give you (1) recognition or (2) confidence.
  • Which would you be more interested in reading about (1) research done by academic experts in their field or (2) appropriate examples of successful and failed attempts in the same field.
  • Which knowledge would you prefer to learn (1) extensive and general identifying all possible options or (2) the ‘How to …’ context specific and the right/best/ most appropriate option in a work place situation.

“The limits to a classical education are this – the most important lessons about life are not taught in an institution.”

If you found yourself choosing (1) more than (2), then it is likely that the university option is right for you. If not, go and talk to a representative from a vocational/technical college about how their learning methods can help advance your career.

If you would like to know more about education, particularly the revolution taking place in Open Online Learning and its implications for entrepreneurs, then click the link that will take you to my rather lengthy article on that very topic.

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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Uncategorized


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