Should High Schools Pursue Career-Oriented Classes?
April 27, 2023
In order to help students better prepare for college and the working world, some high schools are taking to providing more career-focused education in order to make the transition into a four-year university easier. However, what impact would this really have? Staff writers Andreo Benitez and Hope Fournier discuss the pros and cons of switching to this newer education model.
Picture this scenario: after 12 years in the general education system, on your first day of your new university, you’re finding yourself both lost and confused as you scramble to catch up on what everyone else seems to be nailing.
Unfortunately, this nerve-wracking experience is all too common. A large chunk of highschool graduates feel ill-prepared to tackle the beast that is higher education, and it’s not without reason.
Oftentimes, many students find that the transition from high school to university is stressful, uncomfortable, and difficult to adapt to. The absence of structure makes it easier to push students into making bad choices, irrational decisions, and career-jeopardizing mistakes.
“That transition to a four year school was more difficult because [the university] was so much bigger than a high school,” shared Taylor Woronecki, a senior at the University of Connecticut.
However, if we aim our focus more towards helping students prepare, then surely the number of students feeling this way will decrease.
With today’s changing world, it is now more important than ever to direct school-age students towards their college careers now, especially during their last years of high school.
In fact, there’s a multitude of evidence to support this. According to a study of 36 different vocational and technical high schools in Massachusetts, students at these schools had “substantially higher graduation rates (by 21%) than peers at typical high schools” (k-12 Dive) according to researcher Shaun Dougherty, who conducted the experiment.
Moreover, in his research it was found that students coming from low-income households who attended career focused schools also scored higher on standardized tests than their traditional highschool counterparts (k-12 Dive).
A reason for this may have to do with the fact that such programs focusing more on careers help boost the non-academic skills students may possess, and allow them to take studies that are more relevant and engaging to them. With career-oriented programs, students often find that they have more of a say in their education, and can control what they do or do not wish to pursue.
Not only this, but career oriented classes have also shown to boost the morale of students, as well as mental health and self-confidence. “One parent told me that acceptance into the program gave their child a sense of purpose and excitement about high school that had previously been absent,” shared Sean Cassel in his Edutopia Article discussing the benefits of career pathways in high schools.
While this model of schooling may seem very distant, or even out of the cards, it’s worth noting that offering classes that are career-oriented has had a major impact on students, and their attitudes towards learning as a whole.
Andreo Benitez is a senior at South Windsor High School. They are hard working and dedicated to the stories they create, always on the lookout for a new scoop. They are passionate about art, storytelling...
Traditional Education Trumps
Many high schools have been taking the approach of letting students choose classes based on their career choice. Although many students and teachers believe this method would be helpful to students, much background knowledge seems to be left out of this equation that students probably should know.
First of all, in an alternative high school, there would not be as much learning in core-content subjects, such as history, math, science, etc. Even if a student wants to go into a culinary profession, for example, many things in content-area subjects are important for students to know, even if that is unrelated to your future profession. Knowing American history, basic math, and basic science could be important to know in future circumstances. Not knowing how to do these things would probably not affect an everyday life, but if the student chooses to attend college after high school, it is mandatory to take at least a few math classes and other basic subjects. It is proven that students at alternative high schools typically do not have better academic outcomes as opposed to a traditional high school.
Another reason why alternative high schools are not practical is because a career and technical education high school is very similar to what college classes would look like. Although one may argue that students who go to alternative high schools would be able to get a job right after high school, that is not the case with many majors and professions. A lot of jobs look for a college degree or even require a college degree. So if the student is planning on going to college, why have them repeat the same learning twice? The student should be spending their four years in high school learning basic knowledge. Even though what students at regular high schools learn is not usually used in their everyday life or even ever again, it is always good to have knowledge in subjects such as math, history, etc., just in case they do come into play in life at some point.
If you are debating about whether or not to attend a technical, career oriented high school, you may want to think again. Career-based high schools have been on the decline since 1990. Every year, the percentage of students who attend technical high schools drop. The reasons are not definitive, and those could be varied, but many technical schools in Connecticut have lost over half of their population.
“Not just in career based high schools, but in normal high schools, many teachers are starting to leave their jobs because of bad pay, and also student behaviors getting increasingly worse,” said senior Alexa Parada when asked her opinion on technical high schools. This is true, many teachers are leaving their teaching jobs at schools to try to find something with better pay.
Overall, personally I think that career based high schools are not practical. Yes, these high schools do let students work towards their future career at an earlier age, but, the students are missing out on a lot of basic knowledge that they would have to probably continue taking classes in in college, at least during freshman year. Though much of what you learn in a normal high school will never be used again, some of it is useful to know, such as biology or math.
Hope Fournier is a senior at South Windsor High School who loves music, shopping, and reading. Fournier is someone who wants the best for everyone. She wants to learn more about writing and journaling...