By Michelle Wong, columnist

Before I came to Illinois Wesleyan University, I spent a year getting my cosmetology license. I commonly hear among other students that alternative forms of education are somehow less legitimate, are the result of laziness in high school or won’t actually get you a successful career.

But college isn’t always the best choice for people who don’t know what they want to major in or don’t have the money to pay for it. Trade schools and mechanical institutes are another smart and common choice.

The most common form of alternative education is attending community college, but we’ve all heard that it’s only for burn-outs.

That stereotype doesn’t usually ring true though. Many kids take this time to go to school while working to pay for their own education. While still working towards their major, they’re saving money on housing, meal plans and their overall tuition. There were actually quite a few future engineers from my school that originally chose this path.

If you have no idea what kind of career you want to have in the future, community college can buy you more time to think without the hefty price. The more these factors are taken into consideration, the less apathetic these students seem.

Another popular path is going to a trade school. Think about the days when people had apprenticeships and put that into a modern context, complete with textbooks and tests. Trade programs include culinary school, cosmetology school, automotive technology, aviation and more.

People who choose trade schools, especially beauty school, are often seen as unintelligent and lazy. I can assure you that this is completely false. All these programs have their fair share of bookwork and the time that isn’t spent in the books is spent on your feet.  It’s not easy, and it’s not for the lazy.

Trade school graduates are also likely to get jobs sooner than most college grads in the field of their choice. Those who choose these options often already know their passion and choose the most economical way to achieve it.

Think about it. These students may have chosen a less traditional path than most high school graduates, but community college saves money. It buys them time to figure out what they want to do, and it makes it easy to have a job at the same time.

Trade schools allow them to start your career before students in four-year schools even graduate, and the students in the trade school programs work hard to pursue their passions.

I’m not implying that alternative education is for everyone, but try to inform yourself as much as possible before putting someone else down just because of their choice in education.