Makayla Gibson Answers – Why I Chose a Technical Education and How I Used It to Better My Life

I was raised in a home with parents who were advocates of a good education. My dad went to Bridgerland Area Vocational Center (now BTECH) and my mom graduated with her bachelor’s degree two years before I graduated high school. They pushed me to do my best in school, and I strived to be a 4.0 student. I graduated high school with a 3.9 grade point average and a 25 on the ACT. It was enough to get into college with a small scholarship, a small grant, and, unfortunately, student loans. I happily moved to college at Utah State University, living on-campus, and thought, “This is normal; this is what everyone has to do to pay for college.”

My major was undecided at that point. I was going to school and learning a lot of fascinating things with no real focus in my life as to what I wanted in a career. The second semester started and even with the scholarship, grant, and loans, I still couldn’t pay for my schooling. I borrowed some more and got a full time job working in the college cafeteria making minimum wage. But I still thought, “This is normal. My friends are all doing the same thing.”

I finished that first year of college and saw how much debt I had accumulated without any direction in life as to what I really wanted to be when I ‘grew up.’ I decided to take some time off, pay back my loans, and go back to school when I could actually afford it. I went to work in a factory and started paying off my student loans. After a year, I decided to serve a full-time proselyting mission for a year and a half and I returned home to about the same position—no money and no clue what I wanted to do. I went back to school at Southern Utah University, who had given me a better scholarship, but yet again racked up those student loans.

After another year, I found myself in the same position as the first time I went to college; however, this time, my thoughts had changed. I talked to my friends, who were now graduating and having many regrets about their college education in regards to their current financial situation. Instead of taking a break to pay off their loans, like I did, they had continued racking up the debt until they graduated with a degree. However, many of them were unable to get a job because they lacked work experience and therefore couldn’t pay back their student loans.

I realized that I didn’t want to be in that position. My friends had overwhelming student loans and careers that didn’t pay much better than minimum wage right after graduating. These experiences lead to the initial decision to start my education at a trade school. I saw the advantages of a technical education. Some advantages included the low-cost tuition, hands-on experience, a self-pace environment, flexible scheduling, the ability to transfer credits to the university, and the ability to get a great career in about a year.

I beganBusiness Technology in March 2016 and saw nearly immediate results. I had already started working at the college cafeteria before attending school, and after only a few months I changed positions and became a college receptionist. After another eight months of my program I was working in the Accounting Department of the school—putting into practice the exact things that I was learning in school.

Having experienced both types of education, university and technical, and appreciated the benefits of both, I think that I would make a great advocate for technical education. I understand that there is need for a four-year degree and do not discount university education whatsoever. I just know the pressures of graduating college and feeling as though a university is the only option, when it isn’t. I would like to promote technical education so that more people understand the amazing possibilities and benefits of starting a career at a technical college.

I recently graduated with a Business Technology certificate. I was able to do school around my work schedule and graduate free of debt. I was then offered to work full-time as the Accounts Receivable Technician in the Accounting Department at Bridgerland Technical College, and I love it. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the technical education I received by attending Bridgerland Technical College.