For years, the idea of high school students experiencing Career and Technical Education (CTE) has been a debate. Some argue that CTE schools, also known as vocational schools, do not get students ready for careers or college once graduated. Meanwhile, others disagree and believe there is a benefit to being exposed to their desired trade early on in life. These schools offer courses of study in fields such as plumbing, HVAC, cosmetology, the culinary arts, cyber-security, nursing, biological studies, and media production, just to name a few.
When I was in middle school, I was introduced to the idea of Career and Technical Education (CTE). A group of students came to my school, showed what you could study, and handed out pamphlets with more information. When I was a freshman in high school, I immediately wanted to apply to study television and multimedia production. When I wanted to apply, I remember my dad being hesitant because when he was younger, CTE schools were for students who were not doing well academically. After we attended an open house for our local CTE school, my dad's thoughts quickly changed.
I spent three out of my four years of high school at my local CTE school studying TV/Multimedia Production for half of my regular high-school day. While there, I was presented with countless professional opportunities a traditional classroom could have never provided. I learned how to write a resume and build up a portfolio for potential clients (shoutout to SkillsUSA and their competitions for making me learn these skills). I was able to work with local businesses, meet professionals in the field, and even produce episodes of a student-run web-series a friend of mine had created.
By my senior year, I had been exposed to and worked on multiple professional projects, had certifications needed for my career, and knocked out a few college credits in the process. One of my best friends who also attended a CTE school was able to get an internship at the National Cancer Institute in her junior year because of her experience in her CTE classroom. Another friend of mine studied culinary arts at a CTE school, attended a CTE college, and was able to land an internship in a professional kitchen all within a year or two of being out of high school.
When I entered college last fall, I began taking courses that applied to my major (Film) and the classes seemed a thousand times easier already knowing this information.
My best friend who also attended CTE shared the same experiences with me when it came to her biology and lab classes. Going in with pre-known information on your interests can really help a student excel in college. Not to mention, attending a CTE school in high school prevents them from switching majors a bunch of times in college (not that it's a bad thing, but it can be a pain).
Now, I'm not writing this post just to brag about the accomplishments that have come along with CTE schools, but to show others how CTE schools can actually benefit students. By the time I was out of high school, I had been offered work through the connections I made.
Think about those who don't want to attend a traditional college or no college at all. The opportunities these students are presented at this moment could change their lives forever. I am eternally grateful for the teachers, students, and opportunities I had during my time in CTE school. I would not be where I am today without them. So, to those who ask if CTE schools really get students college and career ready, I wholeheartedly say YES.