A Fair Trade
I was lucky enough to have a choice here. I had two main options, to attend my local high school or apply for a vocational school in my county, to which I chose the latter. I was entering a new environment that excelled me above the students at my home high school. Comparing the curriculum of those students who went to my local high school with those in my vocational school was like night and day. Students who were in the same courses as me the year prior to high school graduated with about the same amount of courses I took in my freshman and sophomore year. Entering my freshman year of college, I show up in the system as a sophomore because of how many credits I was able to transfer from my highschool. Not only did I receive college credits but I also received a taste of college work ethic before any of my peers. My school was part of a dual enrollment high school program where I was able to take courses at a community college campus for my senior year and truly get a feel for what it was like. Those who went to my local high school didn’t seem to have as much of an opportunity as me in this regard. Looking back and seeing the disparity between my two choices, I am a firm believer that students who partake in vocational education and or early college options provide major benefits over those who don’t have this option or choose not to pursue it.
Joel Vargas, the author of the article “Blending high school and college can sharpen the focus of each”, states that “Earning a high school diploma is a necessary but insufficient step toward supporting oneself and one’s family.” This is the complete truth. A high school diploma is no guarantee of a job at an engineering firm or medical center. The blending of high school and college gives graduates a head start on their career. The article compared early college students to regular high school goers. The results were as follows: 90% of early college students graduated high school compared to 78% annually, 30% of early college students earn an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate with their high school diploma compared to very few nationally, and that early college graduates are more likely to earn a degree than those who did not attend early college.
It is inevitable that students will drop out of high school each year for reasons in and out of our control. So let’s focus on what is in our control. As stated previously, students are dissatisfied with their courses and find them boring, leading them to the end of their school career. How to fix this, give the students a choice. It is highly more likely that a student in a class they are interested in will produce greater results and efforts than a class they are much more dissatisfied with. For example, someone who loves working with computers will most definitely feel more willing to take a class focused around computer software than one where they are not. As stated in College Knowledge by Sarah Hooker and Betsy Brand “High school dropouts report their primary reasons for leaving school were that classes were uninteresting or irrelevant to the world beyond high school.” Each student is different so when what they are interested in isn’t an option, it feels like there is no reason to participate. That is where career academies and early college high schools change the game.
Career academies provide a wide arrangement of different fields to be focused in such as engineering, medical, computer science, and construction just to name a few. No two schools are the same, and the same can be said about these career academies but they typically have the same goal. To give the students a learning environment with concentration focused curriculums for different fields and hands on experience. I can say from personal experience that I am not one who loves the cookie cutter schooling format. That is why I was so fond of this new system that I was introduced to. My courses concentrated towards different parts of the engineering field and other related courses bundled in made me much more intrigued with school in general. I was enjoying what I was doing and much more willing to perform to a higher degree in these classes. And with that, the results showed positively, and I was much more interested in going to school each day to learn something new.
This isn’t only for me as the career academy approach has engaged and encouraged students for multiple decades and still proves to be working. As we see in “High School Career Academies: A 40-Year Proven Model for Improving College and Career Readiness”, the author, Betsy Brand states “career academies are one of the very few educational models that has developed “National Standards of Practice” to encourage continuous improvement.” This is a great point and what we need to start doing more of. Putting someone in a position that they don’t want to be in or don’t feel comfortable with and giving them an objective will not produce results comparable to those in their comfort zone. Schools need to be willing to work with the students and cater to their needs and interests. Students will be much more willing to work with their schools to the highest potential if the effort they put in is being matched by the schooling system. This isn’t a fair trade for the students. Give these kids more variety towards what they want and the results will begin to show. Trying to force the same curriculum onto every student is nowhere near a fair trade for both parties. The students tend to work with the schooling system, so they should expect a fair amount of effort put in on the other end.
Brand, Betsy. High School Career Academies: A 40-Year Proven Model for Improving College and Career Readiness. files.givewell.org/files/unitedstates/NAF/Betsy%20Brand%20AYPF%20Career%20Academy%20paper.pdf.
Hooker, Sarah, and Betsy Brand. College Knowledge: A Critical Component of College and Career Readiness. 2010, onlinelibrary-wiley com.ezproxy.rowan.edu/doi/epdf/10.1002/yd.364.
Vargas, Joel, et al. Blending High School and College Can Sharpen the Focus of Each. 2017, journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.rowan.edu/doi/full/10.1177/0031721717739587.