Helping students identify and evaluate opportunities beyond high school is an important role for career and technical education (CTE) teachers. The most common post-secondary opportunities for pursuing a career are
- two-year community college;
- four-year college or university;
- technical training institution;
- military service;
- volunteer service; and
As part of learning about "all aspects of an industry" students should be able to identify multiple routes for obtaining the education and training required to progress in their chosen field. Help students understand that post-secondary opportunities are not mutually exclusive. In some cases one opportunity may be a stepping stone to the next opportunity. The most direct route is not always the most feasible or desirable.
Example of Two Routes to a Management Position
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) recommends using the templates for the programs of study for the 16 Career Clusters as a starting point. These are described in detail in section 11.
Two-Year Community College
Local community colleges are frequently a good option for students looking for an economical education close to home. In Texas, the focus of most community colleges is to provide technical, vocational, and workforce development programs that support local business and industry labor needs. For some occupations, a certificate or associates degree may be all that is needed to embark on a rewarding career.
School counselors should be able to provide resources for helping students apply to local community colleges and universities. CTE teachers should be familiar with community college programs that align with the courses they teach.
Two year colleges can also be a good starting place for students seeking a more advanced degree. For these students, be sure to have them investigate which courses are needed to transfer to a four-year college or university.
Four-Year College or University
Students who wish to pursue an occupation that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher may need guidance on how to evaluate a college or university, apply for admission, and apply for financial assistance and scholarships.
Again, school counselors should have ample resources for assisting students with these activities.
The role of the WBL instructor is to help students learn how to evaluate which schools are best suited to prepare them for their chosen career. Have students investigate and compare colleges and universities offering degrees in their field of study.
Technical Training Colleges and Institutions
Texas State Technical College is a state-supported system of two-year technical colleges with a legislative mandate to focus on highly specialized, advanced, and emerging technical and vocational areas leading to certificates or associates degrees.
There are also hundreds of for-profit colleges and institutions which offer vocational, career, or technical programs. Many advertise that they can help students earn credentials for high demand, high paying jobs quickly. Some of these institutions provide accredited training programs. Many do not.
As a WBL instructor, you can help students evaluate prospective training schools by having them check with the Better Business Bureau and research the school's accreditation and reputation online.
Apprenticeships are a tried-and-true job training strategy that offer a reliable path to well-paying jobs, with no debt.
As discussed in Section 1, a Registered Apprenticeship combines paid on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced journey workers with related classroom instruction.
Apprenticeships usually last for 3-5 years depending on the industry. At the end of the apprenticeship, the apprentice graduates from the program with journeyman credentials certifying their marketable skills.
As a WBL instructor, help students research careers with prospective apprenticeships.
Military service provides students an opportunity to earn while they learn after graduating from high school. The U.S. Armed Forces offer educational benefits to members serving on active duty and afterwards.
As a WBL instructor, create opportunities for students considering military service to explore the official websites.
Volunteer and Community Service
National and international community service programs such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps are ways individuals can gain valuable work experience while serving others. Peace Corps assignments are all overseas and AmeriCorps members serve only in the U.S.
Students can also find numerous volunteer opportunities close to home where they can build on the knowledge and skills they obtained in high school.
Peace Corps volunteers serve for two years, while a stint in AmeriCorps usually lasts 10 months to one year. Both programs provide monthly allowances for living expenses and offer educational benefits and forgiveness of student loans.
Starting work after high school is a valid career development strategy. Many students work at least part-time after high school to help pay for their post-secondary education. High school graduates who successfully complete a coherent sequence of career and technical education courses and earn at least one endorsement will be prepared for an entry level position in their area of concentration.
WBL instructors should have a good knowledge of their community's major local businesses.
In discussing post-secondary opportunities, help students research employee benefit programs offered by prospective employers. Some employers pay their employees' tuition and fees to continue their education. Others have strong on-the-job training, professional development, and mentorship programs to help their employees advance. A few even have corporate universities or apprenticeship programs to provide employees with job-specific and company-specific training.
More Options Equals More Opportunities
Youth who have gained the three key career-readiness skills (i.e., academic, job-specific, and employability skills) by the time they graduate from high school will have many more post-secondary options than students who have only mastered academic skills.
Help students see and evaluate all their options so they can advantage of the best opportunities for long-term career advancement.