More and more, Career and Technical Education (CTE) is becoming intertwined with traditional K-12 Education.
High school students who plan to attend four-year post-secondary academic colleges are taking part in hands-on CTE courses. They take these courses not in place of their regular academic classes, as full-time CTE-focused students, but as part of their regular academic schedules.
But why? Why are traditional K-12 schools and their students now embracing CTE courses as part of a balanced academic curriculum? And how does CTE help prepare these students for college?
Let’s take a look at the benefits behind this new hybrid approach and see how CTE can help your K-12 school and its college-bound students.
CTE Helps Traditional K-12 Academic Schools
Many traditional K-12 schools are encouraging their students to mix CTE courses into their regular academic schedules because, among other benefits, CTE courses help to increase K-12 schools’ overall graduation rates.
“High school students involved in CTE are more engaged, perform better and graduate at higher rates.”
To help explain this increased graduation rate, the ACTE points to the fact that:
“81 percent of dropouts say relevant, real-world learning opportunities would have kept them in high school.”
Improving overall student outcomes is a primary goal of K-12 schools for a number of reasons, first among which is the profound, positive difference graduation can make for the future of each individual student.
From a strictly operational standpoint, however, higher graduation rates also can yield more funding for the school. In turn, more funding produces better opportunities for each successive year’s students. The expanded funding can be put toward more types of courses and better resources for both the CTE program and traditional academic classes alike.
In this way, promoting CTE in your traditional K-12 school creates a positive cycle that benefits everyone involved.
CTE Benefits College-Bound Students
For the students themselves, there are more benefits to taking CTE courses than could be enumerated in just one article.
If you look just at the effects of mixing CTE courses into the regular academic schedules of students who plan to attend college, there are at least three major benefits worth highlighting.
The Ability to Make Informed Decisions
First, CTE can be used as a way for these college-bound students to investigate potential areas of study at the next level. They will be able to “dip their toes in the water,” so to speak, which will help prevent students from starting down one career path in college only to discover it’s not the right one for them. Such a late discovery would cost the student in both tuition and time.
This experience will help students not only to make sure that the overall field is right for them, but also to narrow down potential areas of focus within the larger area of study. They will get hands-on, practical experience with potential careers and then can weigh their options to make more-informed decisions about their futures.
Gaining Skills Not Covered in College
Furthermore, students planning to attend a four-year academic college after high school will learn something they may not encounter at a university but that certainly will be expected of them when they begin their careers: “soft skills.”
Soft skills include problem solving, time management, critical thinking, and work ethic, among other abilities that employers look for in job candidates. With CTE experience under their belts, these students will be better prepared than other candidates when it comes time to go from college to the workforce, regardless of occupation or career path.
The Competitive Advantage Over Other College Applicants
Finally, the combination of the previous two benefits — gaining a better sense of their exact path forward and developing the soft skills that highlight a well-rounded background — makes these CTE Pathway Completers more attractive to college admissions officers and recruiters. A college application with a CTE Pathway Completion certificate attached will give these traditional-education students a competitive advantage over other K-12 students during the college admissions process.
As you can see, then, this new era of CTE in the K-12 classroom is beneficial both for schools and for students. And, whether those students are training to go directly into the workforce, to a trade school, or to an academic college, CTE is proving to be an indispensable step along the way.
Want to help your K-12 students highlight their CTE experience for college admissions applications?
CTE Pathway Completion certificates do just that, and our ClassMate CTE software makes it easy to track and report on your K-12 school’s CTE Pathway Completers and produce completion certificates for inclusion in their college applications.