Careers | Vocational School | Updated October 2013

Vocational High School: Is it right for you?

By Dean Tsouvalas | For

Vocational high schools aren’t what they used to be. They have often existed as a place for students who perform poorly in mainstream high schools, but this is rarely the case anymore. With 80 percent of mainstream high school students taking at least one vocational class, vocational and technical education has become a regular part of high school life.

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Students who take vocational classes have a much higher chance of successfully completing high school. In addition, many businesses are saying that job applicants do not have the skills required and have taken a particular interest in vocational schools. Businesses and vocational schools are developing partnerships to create the best possible future job candidates. The increase in vocational education in the United States mirrors Europe, where the majority of students attend vocational apprenticeship programs.

In Santa Clara, Calif., the Pathways Program is a vocational high school option where all students take thematic courses that draw together several disciplines. Pathways works with technology companies, like IBM, to give their students the most up-to-date and relevant training for their future careers.

Students of vocational schools traditionally attended a satellite campus where they could select a course of study in a career-specific industry. Popular courses of study include automotive, cosmetology, culinary, electrical, health careers, and design. Most schools offer students the opportunity to take traditional courses in addition to their career-specific courses. These courses can be taught at the same location, or at a local public high school.

Read more about Vocational Schools and if they are right for you: The Importance of Vocational Training


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