For each of life’s destinations, multiple paths exist. Different people can take different paths, and all still end up at the same endpoint. This would lead you to believe that all paths leading to the same place are of equal quality, right?

Wrong. Undoubtedly, some paths are better than others. Some paths lack challenge and are easy to follow. Others are complex with obstacles along the way.

And yeah, while the two paths will bring you to the same place, the one path pumps out people who now know how to tackle difficulties and the other path doesn’t quite do the same.

I like to think that the path I chose for high school was the more complex one. And I also like to think it made me a better scholar, intellect, and all around person. I’m biased, but so is everyone.

In my county, and in many other countries, vocational-technical schooling is an option. This education style is a bit more standardized than others. Students choose a field of study before starting high school and follow through with that field during their years in school.

I attended a vocational-technical school that had a focus on Information Technology with Business Integration. That was just one option of the five schools offered on the campus. Other options included Allied Health Sciences, Performing Arts, Engineering, and a variety of trades like masonry, mechanic studies, cosmetology, and culinary arts. I made my decision to attend this school in 8th grade.

In theory, these schools help you focus your studies and prepare you for college and a career devoted to whatever field your high school is devoted to. In theory, I should be an Information Technology major. I should have dreams of working with cutting-edge technology and using technical skills to innovate, but I don’t, and that’s just fine.

I was required to take classes in Microsoft Office, Oracle SQL, Java, A+, and a variety of basic level business courses. I didn’t have much freedom in choosing which classes would be included in my schedule. The school pushed us to hone in and become masters in our technology courses.That was the nature of the schooling path I chose.

There’s much controversy about this method of schooling. Many comments about vocational-technical high schools like mine sound like:

“Doesn’t that limit you?”

“8th grade is too young to choose a field to study.”

“You should take electives that let you explore more and find your interests”

In response to all of these comments, it’s important to remember two things about education and finding your passion.

School is not the only place where you can explore your interests in life.

There’s much value in becoming an expert in something rather than being subpar at a lot of things.

I’m a Television-Radio major at Ithaca College. I knew going into college that TVR was my passion and what I wanted to do, but did I learn that in high school? Nope. My high school didn’t have a television program because it was so technology focused, yet I still discovered my passion.

My point here is not to shame my high school for not exposing me to a variety career paths. If I wanted that kind of high school experience, I should’ve transferred elsewhere. My point here is that the classroom isn’t the only place where the human mind is capable of discovering its interests. Read about, listen to, watch videos of, and immerse yourself in anything that even slightly sparks your interest and that’s how you’ll discover what you love. It can happen in the classroom, but it doesn’t have to.

With that being said, devoting high school class time to one specific line of study is still beneficial even if you don’t plan on pursuing that field in the future. To some degree, I feel like I left high school with a level of expertise regarding Information Technology and Business. I spent four years studying these fields and even though I’m not majoring in either, I’ve found these skillsets to be helpful with daily life.

I feel much better off having devoted a substantial amount of time in high school to IT and Business compared to if I had taken one semester of this and one semester of that at a traditional, public high school. There’s something special about being dynamic and about being excellent at a variety of things.