Expanding Student Opportunities Through CTE

One of the most important goals of education today is to prepare students to further their studies in higher education – college readiness preparation.  For this reason, ‘College Readiness’ gets major attention, both in legislation and funding.  It is the goal of educators nationwide to make college attainable for everyone.  But let’s get realistic – college is not attainable for everyone; and if it were, then wouldn’t that minimize the value of a diploma?

For much of the past 50 years, students were told that it did not matter what degree you had as long as you had one, “a degree is a degree!”  For the longest of times this may have been true.  But as a college diploma becomes more and more expected, it has lost some of its value.  In response, this has led to a jump in postgraduate studies as job seekers are searching for new ways to stand out in the large pool of educated applicants.

Unfortunately, for many reasons – academic interest, academic ability, and financial feasibility – college is not the answer for all of today’s youth.  Making every student believe that a university-level education is a necessity implies that anything short of a college degree is a failure. What can be done to open doors for adult students returning to school, or students who lack the financial means or general interest to attain a college degree?

Education for Everyone Through CTE

cte professionals

An exciting answer to help these students has found traction in education.  The field of Career and Technical Education (CTE) has introduced new opportunities for students to gain experience and possibly earn certification in technical trades while earning a high school diploma.  Through CTE programs implemented in high school settings, students can choose from technical fields such as:

  • Medical sciences including nursing or EMS
  • Mechanical studies in engines or auto mechanics
  • Digital arts such as animation, gaming, simulations or video production
  • Engineering and robotics
  • Entrepreneurship and Business Management
  • Cosmetology

These are only a few examples of the technical fields a student could choose to pursue!  Most importantly, the student is studying in a technical career field while simultaneously earning a high school diploma.  This provides CTE students the ability to graduate high school with a diploma plus technical skills, valuable work experience, and possibly certification in their chosen field.

Benefits of CTE for High School Students

Studying trades alongside the core curriculum of math, science, language arts, and history provides students with an added set of professional skills for their future.  For students who struggle with learning algebra, physics or remembering details of the Ottoman Empire; learning a trade can not only open up immediate job opportunities but it can also be a confidence builder – and lead to a better understanding and interest in the core subjects.

writing speech bubble my future starts today not tomorrow

Applying technical skills to traditional curriculum can help add meaningful context to student education and comprehension of covered material.  Through helping students make connections to the core subjects, they are better able to understand why they are learning about these subjects. While some students understand the general importance of learning, many need a concrete reason to help understand the value of the lessons they are being taught.  Allowing the student to gain experience of their choice in such diverse, technical fields will help them establish a connection between their own personal interests and the curriculum – it will motivate the students to learn and to graduate.  

Benefits of CTE for College-Bound Students

While CTE can help open up opportunities for the non-college-bound student, it by no means rules it out altogether – college is still an option!  An entry-level college student with a technical and professional skillset obtained from a CTE program could be invaluable to their ability to succeed in a college program.  Perhaps the student would choose to continue their pursuit of the CTE field that they studied in high school.  For example, a student who completed the practical nursing program could then proceed into a college nursing program.  The practical skills gained from the CTE program in high school would give the student an advantage over the students who were not afforded the option of a CTE program.

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If the college-bound student chose not to continue their CTE studies in college, the knowledge they gained could still be beneficial in helping them find employment to help fund their education.  With the price of a college education these days, chances are the student will need to work to pay for their education.  And while the typical college-level job is usually something along the lines of waiting tables, CTE students could add relevant work experience to their resumes – by the time they graduate they could have four years of professional work experience.

It is important to remember that all students are different.  Students are individuals and education should be flexible enough to reach all types of learners. CTE  is not only an equal alternative to college; in many cases it is a better one!  It opens the doors to a new method of learning that is capable of reaching the variety of today’s learners!  If you are interested in finding more information, visit https://www.acteonline.org  or  http://acteronline.org

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