POSTED: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 8:05pm
UPDATED: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 8:11am
TYLER — Nestled in quiet corner of North Tyler --- is DFE Tech.
It's a trade school. After a 7 week program, you graduate a drilling fluid technician or 'mud' technician as they call it and often get paid at least $50,000 a year -- depending on the company, some make much more.
Director Michael Rowden says the oil business is a good one to be in financially -- and a college degree is not necesarilly a requirement.
"Probably half of them don't have a degree. They make more money than most people in the country. The other half do have a degree. But it's not in what we're doing. Because there's more money in this than what they could do with their...like me having a business degree...never used it," Rowden said.
Joe Gillean from Winnsboro is a recent DFE graduate.
After high school, he went to community college, dropped out, started his own construction company and had that for 16 years.
"Economy went bad. I was looking for an option to make equivelent to what i did, so I came to this class," Gillean said.
Gillean said getting a degree from a 4-year college just wasn't an option for him.
"If you're an english major you still have to do science, biology, and it does give you a good education for life, in general. But at my age and my current situation I didn't have a choice,' he said.
David McKenzie from South Carolina is new to the class -- and has similar feelings about the benefts of trade school.
"My brother graduated the last class from DFE Tech. He was...he graduated on Friday, had an interview for a job on monday. Got hired, did extremely well in the interview process...knew the material very well and got a very good job down in South Louisiana," McKenzie said.
Before spending time in the Marine Corps, McKenzie was actually studying to be a doctor. But it just wasn't his cup of tea.
"We're not talking about stuff we don't need to know...ya know I was a biology major. I'm out there learning history of the United States before 1865...has nothing to do with biology," he said.
Cost is a major factor as well! The folks over at DFE tell KETK, the cost of the class on average is about $9,500 for the 7 week course. One of the graduates actually told us that was paid off with their first pay check! But 4 year college is quite a bit more...instructors at Letourneau University in Longview tell us the average cost for a 4-year education is anywhere from $60-80-thousand. but they say it could be a lot less with scholarships...and experts as well as students there say it's worth it.
Julencia Curtis is a sophomore biology major at Letourneau. She wants to go into pre med. Even though she's not really learning a trade per-say, she's glad she has a focus.
"It's very important because I know a lot of people here who just come here and do general studies and...they go through a lot," Curtis said.
While others at Letourneau are learning a trade -- but they're getting a 4-year education on top of it.
Yoni Adonyi is the department chair for 'materials joining.' It's like welding, but it also includes plastics and other materials.
Adonyi says the difference between trade school and a 4-year education is simply a matter of training vs. education.
"I would compare the word training with being a line cook and you always know what to do but a chef will have to put together recipe in the absence of a book. So in otherwords, a trade school follows a book...we write the book," Adonyi said.
Like David Mckenzie, the DFE student said, one of the major differences between trade school and 4 year is the required courses like literature or history that the 4-year students learn in addition to want they want to do for a career.
Materials Joining student Tim Privitt doesn't mind.
"People that may not like English and Literature, you're gonna have to draw upon it when you're in your professional career and you're having to write reports or documentation of some sort on a professional level," Privitt said.
Letourneau Arts and Sciences dean Dr. Larry Frazier says even if it was true that trade school students could graduate quicker and make more money quicker...many young people just need that university experience and a well-rounded education.
"Having a 4 year experience, okay, you've got the big bank account, now how are you gonna life your life? What are you gonna do with it? How do you invest yourself and can you? Can you be a service to society? Do you understand your world? And where you can be of benefit? And I think our students have a better opportunity to do that," Frazier said.
2 different styles of learning -- with benefits on each side -- some believe in the future...they won't have to be so seperate.
"I think instead of looking at it as a controversial relationship we should look at it as a complimentary relationship and maybe doing something in the future to maybe harmonize them," Adonyi said.