Community College vs Trade School vs College

I graduated high school in 2006 and was one of the top students in my class. I wrestled, ran track, cross country and did well enough to go to C.I.F. I was in the student body and was secretary for my 2006 class. My school had a Model United Nations club in which I helped run the biggest West Coast conference in 2005 as a junior called WCIMUN in Irvine Ca.

My teachers and guidance counselors all encouraged me to attend U.C. Irvine to become a mechanical engineer.

They would say, “You’re on the right path to go to college! Engineers make great money! People respect engineers! You will have a great career!”. They failed to mention the crushing debt I would have to pile on to get this great career.

I was a 17 year old being encouraged to attend college and take on thousands of dollars in debt. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to college. I wouldn’t be able to afford the debt that comes along with getting a college degree.

I wasn’t even sure if being an engineer was what I wanted to do. What if I spent all that time and money and hated being an engineer?

I was a great athlete, plenty of extra-curricular activities, top of my class with plenty of college acceptance letters.

On the outside, it looked like my future was set. On the inside, I was lost.

I got a sign in the form of a broken down 1966 mustang.

My dad bought me a Marlboro Red 1966 mustang with a 289 cubic inch engine for my 16th birthday for being a good student. I fell in love with working on cars when I would have to fix my mustang every week. Old cars tend to need a lot of love.

I took a job my senior year at auto zone to pay for the gas and parts for my Mustang. It was a great job because I got auto parts at a discount and learned to run a parts store.

I became a manager after 3 months. My team consisted of 2 sales associates and another assistant manager. My assistant manager was a 20 year old that told me about Universal Technical Institute, a trade school for automotive. He raved about how it was a great school that helped you become a mechanic. I researched the school and then booked a tour. I visited the Rancho Cucamonga campus and I immediately felt at home.

I thought to my self

“Here is a school where they teach you how to be a mechanic and help you find a job after graduation?”

“I would have a career doing what I loved in less than 2 years?”

“My managerial skills will come in handy when I have enough experience and money to open my own auto repair shop! That’s something I would never be able to do as a mechanical engineer!”

I enrolled into U.T.I. the summer of 2006 and the rest is history.

My name is Nestor Mendoza and I own auto repair shops in Orange County, California. I also run a YouTube channel where I discuss auto repair, trades businesses and life. I have an online store where we are selling auto mechanic supplies. I also write for my blog where I help entrepreneurs open and run trades businesses.

You have been sold a lie.

Going to college is not the only way to find a good career and make a good living.

In 2014-2015, on average, a university of California college student pays over 200k in tuition if they live on campus and is from out of state. They graduate with an average of $37,172 in debt, little job prospects and no hope.

In 2015 it took 3-9 months for an average college graduate to find a job.

College is a bad decision for most young men.

The upside is not worth the downside

Luckily, you have more than just one option.

In the information age, you can learn almost anything through YouTube and Google.

There are dedicated trade schools that will teach you specific careers where you can start working right after graduating and make 50k your first year.

Community colleges now offer trades programs for a wide range of fields.

In a 50 mile radius from my auto repair shop, there are community colleges that will teach you the following trades:

  1. Automotive Mechanic
  2. Automotive Collision Repair
  3. Culinary chef
  4. Welder
  5. Radiology technician
  6. HVAC Technician
  7. Plumbing
  8. Construction
  9. Aviation Technician
  10. Dental hygienist
  11. Graphic Design
  12. Kinesiology
  13. Computer Maintenance and repair
  14. And many more

All these trades take an average of two years to complete and are affordable. At the local college, Saddle Back Community College, one credit unit is 46 dollars.

The automotive course is 39 units to complete the major. The course is $1794 dollars. If you want to add electives, those come out to another 47.5 units for a cost of $2,185. Your entire automotive technician training could be gained by paying less than 4,000 dollars.

This is a normal cost for other trade course at a community college.

I wish I would have gone to community college and spent $4,000 dollars and not $35,000 for Universal Technical Institute.

Community college automotive trades programs cost, on average, $5,000 dollars. Community college can be cheaper if you get approved for financial aid. Most students qualify for financial aid.

The truth many trade school graduates won’t tell you is that a community college trades programs are just as good, if not better than a trade school program.

The big sell for U.T.I. when I attended was that I would be working with the greatest and latest tools, scanners and cars. U.T.I. said my education would be better because you got to work with the newest equipment.

They lied.

Saddle Back Community College has a state of the art facility that rivals most dealerships.

Orange Coast College gets new welders and tools donated to them every 2 years by manufacturers and businesses.

To say that you get better education because of new equipment shows lack of real world experience.

If new equipment made you the best mechanic or trades men, then the guy with the biggest bank roll would be producing the best work.

This is never the case. Old school mechanics with 8 year old scanners are running circles on technicians with new tools.

The instructors are, in many cases, better. Instructors are in it for the love. 

Many instructors of community colleges have their own businesses and have worked in the field for decades. Many are retired and want to give back to the industry by teaching the new generation of trades men.

In my YouTube community of mechanics a man named “Scanner Danner” runs a very popular auto diagnostic channel. He teaches at a trade school and has his own mobile diagnostic business. He is the best diagnostic mechanic on YouTube and he works at a regular trade school. He does YouTube for the love.

Many community colleges work directly with trade business owners and manufacturers to get you into their businesses. Plumbing, HVAC, auto shops, construction and welding companies use community college trades programs as a funnel to find new technicians. Not to mention, instructors know all the surrounding companies and can place you in a job if you’re a go getter.

Free yourself from status slavery and see the benefits community college provides to you and your future.

Like other major colleges, people buy the brand and name of a school for the status. Same goes with big name trade schools. You are not going to get that much better of an education because you went to a big name school.

Status is slavery. Going to college for status is slavery.


Community college offers best of both worlds. They can teach you a trade and help you get into a University if you change your mind.

The first year of college is a discovery year.

Everyone is trying to figure out what they want to do and taking remedial courses. Why pay the $35,000 tuition fee when you can pay a fraction of that price and have the same experience?

In community college you can complete your general education for a fraction of the price you would at a big name university. These credits can help you transfer into a big name college if you decide to get a degree.

I knew what I wanted to do at a young age. But most young men might not. Community college gives you the opportunity to explore multiple career options while not breaking the bank.

Most community colleges are close to home.

Housing for a university is expensive. On average, a student will pay $10,000 to $16,000 depending on university and location. UCLA cost $15,441 for room and board.

In a community college, most students can live at home while attending school.

Living at home might not be ideal, but it will save you a lot of money.

If you have to get out of the house, I recommend you rent an apartment with 5 other guys. I have had great luck finding roommates through craigslist. Living with roommates will teach you a lot about the world and it will give you your first taste of independence.

Find a job in your trade and get experience.

The number one thing employers look for when hiring a trades man is experience.

Experience always beats a degree.

If you are going to be in a trade, I recommend you find a job as an apprentice.

In the automotive field, go work for Jiffy Lube or a tire shop. In HVAC or plumbing or any other trade, call every company in your area and ask them to take you on as an apprentice.

When you are looking for an apprenticeship, you won’t have much to offer an employer. You don’t have experience and you could be a big burden if you aren’t willing to learn quickly. This is why you have to explain why you can help them.

When I hire employees I look for 3 things.

  1. Can you help my business make more money?
  2. Can you make my life easier?
  3. Will you be a loyal employee that will grow, learn and be a big part of the success of my business?

Convey to the owner that you can help them make money, take responsibility off their plate and make their job easier. Most importantly, you will be there for the long haul.

Put the following sentences in your own words when asking for an opportunity to be an apprentice.

  • If you give me a chance, I will take as much responsibility off your plate as I possibly can. The more I’m with you, the more responsibility I will take on.

Business Owners are busy. We don’t need more work. If you can take some of the stress off us, we will value you more than anything.

  • I will help the company make more money by making the job process easier for everyone.

Trades businesses run on processes. If you can make that process more efficient by assisting in mundane tasks that many people don’t like to do, you’ll be hired.

  • I want to learn, be a big part of the business and make it successful. If the business succeeds, then I succeed. Let me help you make it succeed in any way I can.

At the end of the day, an employer employee relationship is mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, many people are in it for themselves.

Explain that you understand that if the business succeeds, then you succeed and vice versa.

Everyone wins.

Put the business success at highest priority and you will always have a good paying job you’ll be happy to work in.

As a trades business owner, it’s hard to find good employees. In this day and age, many young men lack motivation and will power. But it’s the best time for a good motivated trades men. If you show initiative and common sense, you’ll always be sought after by good employers.

It’s easy to stand out when you have little competition.

If you’re reading my stuff or Mike Cernovich, you are that person employers like me look for.

The good the bad and what I would change.

Community college programs can be long.

Some classes are big and it’s hard to get good attention from the instructor.

Not all community colleges are created equal. Some have bad programs for different reasons.

Community college will require you to take other classes. This can distract you from focusing on your trade. Focus is necessary to complete these programs.

If you really want to do something, you’ll do it. It won’t be hard to complete a program if you really like it.

The point is that you can figure things out and focus on what you like to do while not breaking the bank.

College programs, no matter how much you pay for them, are what you make of them.

Community colleges have more upside than downsides.

When you live life making choices on this scale, you will see the benefits and succeed.

Ask successful people how they did it and copy it.

I have asked for the input of all of my subscribers. Most of which are in a trade and attended a trade school or community college. Their ages range from 16 to 65

Many of my viewers own businesses and have years of experience in the trades. Their input is invaluable.

I asked them three questions.

1. What do you like most about the trade school or community college you attended?
2. What do you like the least about the trade school or community college you attended?
3. What would you do differently?

I want you to have my opinion and input and the opinion and input of hundreds of others in the trades.

I have compiled all of the most helpful comments and have put them at the bottom of this article. If you would like to see original and more comments, just click on the video and check the comment section.



The Mechanic

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