So you want to further your education, but you’re not sure of which route to go. Some will suggest to obtain an academic degree, while others will hail the advantages of a vocational degree. While both have their advantages and disadvantages, we’ve found the pros and cons of each so you can make the best decision for you and your future.
Academic Degree vs Vocational Degree: what’s the difference?
While both an academic degree and a vocational degree are ways to achieve higher education, there are some differences between the two. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each to determine the differences and discover what route would work best for your education needs or desires.
Vocational Degree: Pros
First, let’s understand what a vocational degree actually is before we get to the pros and cons of this type of education. A vocational degree definition is an education that is career or trade specific. Typically the courses involved in a vocational degree last two years.
Many times vocational course will take place at the workplace. This allows for the students to arm themselves with the abilities to apply any knowledge learned to real-world situations. At the same time, they can learn inter-personal skills as they work and learn alongside their team of colleagues.
Vocational courses are specifically designed to meet the needs of job sectors and employers. What this means is that students will be able to develop the knowledge and skills that employers desire. This enables the students to increase their employability and/or the likelihood of finding a job shortly after commencing their course works.
Another great thing about vocational courses is they can be assessed in a variety of ways. Instead of sticking to the traditional methods of just using exams or essays to determine course success, vocational courses will allow for assessment based on skill demonstration in most cases. This is attractive for those who do not like exams or A-level grading systems.
In addition, when you are studying for a vocational degree, it is an excellent way to decide whether or not the specific career path is suitable for you.
Speaking of vocational studies, in the past the courses were quite limited to just a handful of career paths such as hair dressing. In today’s world there are a large variety of courses to take such as IT specialists, music producers, or even graphic design.
The new qualifications of vocational degrees are now validated by universities and employers as sound methods that can and will lead to career progressions and real employment opportunities which makes vocational courses just as valid and sometimes even comparable to courses in an academic degree route.
Those who take vocational studies will have the advantage of combining work and study. This means vocational students are often times more work ready than those who have taken academic courses.
Not to mention, vocational degrees are often less expensive than academic degrees which means vocational students typically avoid the huge debt that is associated with academic degrees.
Vocational Degree: Cons
Since vocational degree courses are so focused and tailored for a career path or job sector, students who decide to attend vocational schools will focus in on something specific. This will limit their options to the particular career path.
The quantity of courses offered within a vocational degree can be confusing and it is not simple to compare to other educational qualifications such as academic degrees or A-level studies. This should be changing since more and more students seek alternative educational routes.
For some students getting accepted in University is a rite of passage. Attending University is often seen as a bridge between adulthood and childhood-not just a way to advance their education. Living on campus, making lasting friendships, attending lectures, crazy social and nightlife, and writing a dissertation are things many students want to experience and you can only do so if you choose an academic degree route.
Academic Degree: Pros
The advantages of a degree are highly regarded in many ways- by society, social classes, and employers. Academic degrees are more easily recognized by potential employers and are more often, job specifications will require the specific academic standards of the applicants. This is simpler to demonstrate and reference for those who have gone the academic degree route. Although technically speaking, vocational courses should be seen as equivalent to academic degrees.
Degrees obtained from Universities are internationally recognized as the top class. This is especially useful for students who are interested in working abroad later in life or immediately after graduation.
University life is a unique and desired experience by many students. Typically, many see attending University as a rite of passage.
Academic degree studies will enable students to hone their debating and analytical skills, written communication skills, as well as in-depth knowledge and the ability to relay and retain information. All of these skills will be highly valued and useful when students enter the workforce.
Academic Degree: Cons
It is no secret that attending University is highly expensive. Unless you are a lucky student who receives scholarships, most of the time, graduates of academic degrees will leave University having built up massive debts during their four years of study. And while scholarships can help, the heavy coursework and busy schedule requirements will not leave a lot of room for students to take on a part time job to help fund their education and lifestyle. On the other hand, vocational studies do not take up this time, nor are they as expensive, so a part time job will be doable and it will help fund their vocational studies.
In the traditional academic route of education, students will be about twenty-one years of age before they complete their studies. Sometimes it is not the best a preparing them for the workplace. It could be said that studying vocational courses are more suited for training students to work together in teams, gain interpersonal skill sets, and manage conflicting job priorities.
There are also several social and economic commentators in the press that have observed that the more people who attend University, the more that the average degree becomes devalued. This means that more often to maintain a competitive edge in the job market and to stand out against competition, many students will seek further education through attending Master’s degree courses. This is not only more expenses added on to the already near crippling debt, but it also takes more time. Not to mention, graduates will often face years of low pay or internships before they can even enter the workforce. This can help students set themselves apart from other individuals. While it can be helpful to obtain an internship, it will only continue the debt that has acquired and more interest can hinder payment being made in an affordable and timely manner.
Academic degree vs vocational degree education
While it can be a difficult decision to make, furthering your education is a decision that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Even though academic and vocational degrees will offer students different ways and methods of education, there is typically no difference in the quality of education that you will receive. It all just comes down to your personal choice and what you want out of your career and your life.
If you are more focused on saving time and money and launching yourself directly into your chosen career, vocational studies will be able to do just that. You will be able to learn real world experience that will apply directly to your day to day life in your chosen career while you study. Not to mention, when you leave vocational studies, you will not be crippled in debt and you can move forward into your future ready to work and focus on using your funds for your future, not paying off your past.
That being said, if you are searching for a unique experience that University life can provide or you are looking to work in an international workplace, an academic degree is for you. Not only can you set yourself apart by learning skills and knowledge that will be useful after you graduate but you will also be viewed by future employers as someone who can commit to long term employment since you have attended school for four years. Just be ready to face large amounts of debt when you have graduated. The debt alone can be a deciding factor of educational choice, but if you are aware of debt that will be around for several years after graduation, you can prepare yourself for such.
In the end, no matter which route you go, the fact that you are taking steps to improve your education will help to improve your career choices and even your quality of life. Just make sure you make the choice that is right for your personal needs and wants. Higher education, whether it be vocational or academic allows you to face your future in a more prepared way and begin a fulfilling career later in life.