Students grapple with lifetime decision — college or the “trades”

“Ken Smith said the hardest thing he ever had to do in life was tell his dad he wanted to quit the engineering program at a New Jersey university and become a contractor. His father never graduated from college and wanted his son to stay in school. “You’ve got to better yourself,” his dad reminded him. As families stagger under $1.5 trillion in student loans —triple the level of college debt a decade ago — the prospect of entering what’s commonly known as “the trades” as a contractor, electrician, plumber or construction workers may prove more appealing. After all, the paycheck rolls in immediately and no one is saddled with debt.”

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