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Choosing A Trade School Over A Four-Year Degree – A Talk With A Parent (Audio Only)

Mark speaks with a real-life parent and discusses her son’s choice to attend a trade school. No one doubts that college can be a great post-high school choice for many, but all too often, the trades are not considered when that choice is made. Society puts a lot of pressure on all kids to get a four-year degree. This pressure does not consider the return on investment or what is the best choice for the child.

Show Notes

Mavis’s son aspires to be an HVAC Technician. He will meet with an HVAC company to discuss job shadowing. If he is interested, he will consider joining a program that the company offers in which they pay for school, and then he can work with them after finishing trade school.

When her son was only 13, he looked at four-year colleges for a science or math degree. His main concern was cost because he did not want college debt. Even though his family kept a 529 account for him, with grandparents and other family members contributing to the account, he was still conscious of how much he would need to borrow.

After experiencing online learning during the pandemic, he decided he didn’t want to be in school any longer than he had to. He then heard about trade schools where he could earn a certificate and start working immediately. When a young tradesman visited their home to fix the furnace, her son learned that the furnace technician went to school for a year and went to work straight away.

While her husband was on board with her son’s decision, Mavis took a little bit to fully adopt and support her son’s choice to attend trade school instead of a four-year college. Family and friends who know people in the trades say it’s a great idea, whereas those who don’t know people working in a trade say they can change their mind if he doesn’t like it.

Mavis’s son has not shared his plan with most of his friends. When he told one of his friends, that person scoffed and said he wouldn’t make the “big bucks” right away, while Mavis disagreed.

For her son’s 529 plan, which can be used for higher educational purposes tax-free, Mavis suggests to her son that he use the funds for post-secondary classes, specifically business classes, to help him with future business needs.

Mavis suggests that parents be open to their children’s education ideas, which are likely better than the parents.


0:00 Brief background of podcast’s relationship with listeners, specifically parents
1:33 Introduces parent — Mavis
2:28 Mavis describes her son’s plans upon completion of high school
3:35 Mavis gives more background on how her son decided to look into a trade school
7:14 She expands on how virtual learning helped her son switch paths
7:58 Her son compared the costs of college compared to the costs of technical school
8:44 Mavis describes her and her husband’s reaction to their son’s decision
10:39 She discusses the reactions of friends and family to her son’s decision
12:22 Her son’s friend’s reaction
14:30 Mavis details plans for her son’s 529 account
15:40 She offers last words of advice for parents

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Mark Struthers 

Chanhassen, MN 55317

The Architecture of Wealth Podcast is for educational purposes only. Investment Advisory Services are offered through Sona Financial LLC (DBA Sona Wealth and Sona Wealth Management), a registered investment adviser authorized to do business in states where registered or otherwise exempt from registration. Nothing discussed during this show/episode should be viewed as investment advice. If you have questions pertaining to your specific situation, please consult your own financial professional.

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