Dear Those Who Doubt Tech Schools,
Many years ago, vocational high schools were known to many as "the schools that held the dumb kids who couldn't make it through normal high school."
Today, vocational high schools everywhere are working tirelessly, trying to prove this old reputation wrong; and let me tell you, it's been far from easy.
One of the biggest issues for our generation, when it comes to deciding between a normal high school education and a vocational high school education, is the mindset of our parents. Vocational schools had this bad reputation when our parents were growing up, as a warehouse for troubled kids; a lot of them still believe it, and many of them have yet to be educated on the great advantages available from a modern vocational education. When our parents were our age, the kids who went to the local tech school were the kids who weren't planning on going to college. Parents need to learn that this is simply not the case anymore.
I attended Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford, MA; One of the 33 technical high schools in Massachusetts. Out of the 18 technical programs offered at NT, I graduated from the design and visual communications program with my technical certification, Adobe Illustrator certification, and of course, my high school diploma. I am currently attending Salem State University as a graphic design major, with a minor in advertising.
There are so many advantages to receiving a vocational education that students should learn before deciding where they want to go to high school. At the point of 8th grade, most kids aren't making decisions based on their futures, how they want to accomplish their goals, or reach their dreams; they're most likely making decisions based off what their friends are doing, where they can play sports, etc. Following your best friend to your town high school is not going to help you start your career path; let me tell you.
Do us "techies" go to college? Of course we do! More than 2/3's of Nashoba Tech's graduates enroll in a two or four year college. On the other hand, I have witnessed many friends from normal high schools stress immensely over choosing a college due to indecision over what they want to major in. I have also seen friends attend college for years as undecided, switch majors multiple times, or even drop out because they don't know what they want to pursue as a career. Because I joined my technical area my freshman year of high school, I have known what I want to major in since I was 14. This was a huge advantage during the college application process.
While attending college, I have a great advantage when it comes to the classes I'm taking for my major. Freshman year, most students are struggling to learn the basics in intro classes, where I have already mastered the basics, and beyond, in shop during high school, and I am starting freshman year of college at a higher level of experience and knowledge than most of the students in my class. Because I went to a tech school I also find myself slightly more motivated and excited to take classes for my major and to continue following my career path. Technical High School students complete a lot of real jobs for individuals and companies outside of school, and this makes us more motivated to work once we get a taste of the real world.
The best part is, college isn't even a must when you attend a vocational high school for some technical areas. Not only can you get a high paying job right out of high school, you can even get one while in high school. It's called co-op. After you have completed the requisite training and gained enough experience, they will send you out into the real world. Instead of being in school on shop weeks, students wake up and go to work. Vocational schools will help find you a job working for businesses around the local area, working for a week at a time, and making money while attending school. There are students from NT who are out on co-op making hundreds of dollars in a week, rather than sitting in a classroom. It's a fantastic opportunity that vocational schools give to their students, and you can't find that anywhere else. Even after graduation, depending on the technical program, students are able to start or continue working full time in their technical area without going to college. Many need code class, but that doesn't take four years like college does. Vocational schools are incredibly helpful for students looking for a jump-start to their career, whether college is part of the process or not.
The average high school offers schedules where you are taking the same classes all year long. After attending Nashoba Tech, I actually think I would go crazy if my schedule was the same week after week. I don't even know how I did it before high school! It's unfortunate that students who attend regular high schools are not informed of all of the awesome opportunities waiting for students at technical schools. They don't know what they are missing out on! This is why I try my very best to try and get the word out. Today's government has been supporting vocational education strongly over the last ten years, spending thousands of dollars more per pupil on us compared with our academic high school counterparts, and trying to send current and future generations of students in the right direction. Each year, the number of applicants to vocational schools is rising, but not as much as it could be if everyone knew how great technical schools are. In today's market, the job search is difficult, and I promise you that attending a vocational school can help tremendously when beginning your journey along your career path.
Whether you are a middle school student wondering where to go next, a high school student wondering if you have made the right choice, a parent looking for options for your child, or just a concerned citizen who cares about college and career readiness, I hope you find the above information useful, and I hope to open the eyes of those still living in the past.
A Proud Techie Cruising Down The Path To Success