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What Are the Advantages of a Vocational High School?

At a vocational high school, a trained guidance counselor can help a student to choose the best college preparatory program.
Vocational schools focus on careers rather than on traditional academics.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2014
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A vocational high school is a public or private learning institution that differs from traditional secondary schools in many ways. Students at vocational schools typically receive more hands-on, career-minded education than students at traditional schools. Individuals are given the opportunity to explore and identify potential career goals, and are provided with the resources needed to achieve them. Most vocational schools recognize the importance of general academic studies as well as career preparation, and offer fully accredited high school diplomas. Depending on a student's abilities and interests, a vocational high school can provide several advantages.

At a vocational high school, a student can meet with trained guidance counselors and choose a program that will best prepare him or her for college, post-secondary technical school, or a career immediately after graduation. Counselors and school officials help students evaluate their goals and potential, and place them in programs that best suit their interests. Vocational learning helps individuals learn the tools and techniques that are vital to certain occupations, gain hands-on experience with different technologies and machines, and develop problem-solving skills that will help them in any career path.

Many vocational high schools provide students with career preparation in health care, computer science, education, business, and any number of highly specialized trades. Individuals have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to become carpenters, electricians, machinists, painters, plumbers, or other professionals. Some programs administer licensing or certification examinations in such programs that allow students to become eligible for employment immediately after graduation.

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While programs certainly emphasis career development, they do not fail to provide students with well-rounded educations. A typical vocational high school program splits its curriculum between job-specific courses and classroom instruction on more general subjects, including math, science, language arts, and physical education. Vocational school students are usually required to complete classroom and homework assignments very similar to those given at traditional high schools.

Another major advantage of a vocational high school is the availability of job placement resources. Guidance counselors at these high schools typically have access to career information and a number of different resources for students who want to find immediate work while attending courses or after they graduate. In addition, many employers and labor unions are closely affiliated with vocational schools, and give preference to job applicants who have completed such programs. With recommendation from guidance counselors and teachers, many students are able to obtain paid apprenticeships or entry-level jobs with ease.

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Discuss this Article

wander
Post 12

If you are in high school and are considering a career directly after school, is vocational high school probably the best option? Or, is it a better idea to stick with regular school and just pick up a few classes in alternative learning?

For myself I have always known that I wanted to be in a trade profession and I don't do very well in school when it comes to things like math and science.

My parents are worried that a vocational high school would limit my chances of attending university. I really have no plans of going to a university anyways, but I would like to keep my mom happy.

letshearit
Post 11

During high school I remember there being a vocational high school in our city, but it had a really bad reputation. Most people thought of the vocational school as a special needs school and students tended to tease those that attended the school.

Interestingly in our city's case, a lot of the students who struggled in regular classes were sent to the vocational school. I imagine this had something to do with the reputation it garnered. One friend I had who made some friends at the vocational told me they studied a lot of things, but he really wanted in on the extended shop classes. I personally think it would be great to have more access to trade training at a younger age.

vogueknit17
Post 10

I was just reading a book where the writer felt a lot of the educational burden in America would change around if vocational schools and community colleges would take over the brunt of career and business training, returning colleges and universities to places of academics for academics' sakes. I really like the idea, though I don't know if it has any chance of working. Regardless, I do think vocational schools deserve more respect.

latte31
Post 9

@Sunshine31 - I think that there is a movement towards more vocational schools because a lot of college graduates are finding that they cannot get a job and need more specialized training that a vocational program can give in order to get a good job.

For example, the average dental hygienist goes to school for a maximum of two years and earns an average salary of $60,000 a year. This is also a field that is in high demand with a lot of opportunities.

I know that a lot of college graduates are reconsidering the liberal arts degree in lieu of a more fast track career path like this because many cannot find a job and are having to take part time work that does not pay well. They also have a lot of student loans stacked up that makes matters worse.

Trade schools have seen a jump in enrollment recently because of the poor economy.

sunshine31
Post 8

@Moldova - I agree with you. I think that going to a vocational high school also allows you to sample various career choices that you don’t get to really do when you take a traditional college prep track.

With a vocational high school, you get to sample classes in the form of electives in fields as diverse as cosmetology, childcare, stenography, graphic design, or even pluming. The great thing with a field like graphic design, is that you can build a portfolio while you are in school and hopefully land a great paying job when you graduate. This is a very marketable field that has a lot of potential.

Moldova
Post 7

@Oasis11 -I have a friend that did that and now she has a bachelor’s degree and a good job. I wanted to add that I recently heard about a vocational program that was developed by a few employers in the area in conjunction with the local community college.

They offered high school credit for students at an at risk high school and allowed these credits to count toward their high school diploma. These students upon graduation would not only have a high school diploma, but they would automatically be placed in a job with an employer.

So they would have a diploma and a job. Most of these jobs were in the healthcare field which allowed these students a chance to break into a field that is constantly growing. I think that more cities should try doing a program like this. It is really a win-win situation.

oasis11
Post 6

I think that a person can go to a vocational high school or a regular high school with a vocational track and then if they decide to go to college, they can always go to a community college for the first two years.

Most community colleges offer remedial classes in case some of these vocational students are not prepared for college level work. I know that in the state of Florida, the community colleges have an agreement with all of the public universities in which they have to accept community college graduates to any public university in the state.

So these student have guaranteed acceptance as long as they meet the graduation requirements for an Associates of Arts.

They will be granted admissions to the university, but they have to apply to each of the individual colleges within the university and meet those requirements before they are accepted there.

candyquilt
Post 5

Am I wrong to think that vocational high school is a good idea if you're not interested in going to college?

I don't think it would be as advantageous in terms of career and income if you go to vocational high school and also college.

But then again, it wouldn't really take anything away from you either. It might even make your college years more productive.

What do you think?

burcidi
Post 4

I read in a magazine that students who graduated from vocational high schools are more likely to be employed than regular high school graduates.

Interestingly, I always thought the opposite because vocational schools are made to look like they are for unsuccessful students. It's sort of the last option for people who might not do well in regular schools.

But apparently this is so untrue! Vocational high school graduates make even more money than regular school graduates on average!

indemnifyme
Post 3

@sunnySkys - Interesting. I can't remember what kind of system my school district had in place as far as vocational schools.

I do think high schools should place a greater emphasis on preparing for life after high school. So many college students change their majors over and over because they don't know what they want to do. Maybe if they had guidance like what is discussed in this article, college freshman would be better equipped to choose a path and stick with it!

sunnySkys
Post 2

When I was in high school, there was either the vocational track or the college track. Meaning, the students who chose to attend the vocational school didn't take the classes that prepare you for college. They weren't required to take higher level math classes and certain other classes most colleges look for.

I think this really does people a disservice. What if they changed their minds after high school and wanted to attend college after all?

On the other hand, at the vocational school in my area everyone graduated with a certification or skill. This meant they were ready and qualified to get a job right out of high school. So I guess it could be a great option if you already know you aren't going to college, but how many high school freshmen are really qualified to make that choice?

SteamLouis
Post 1

I wish I had gone to a vocational high school. I went to a regular one and I don't feel that it prepared me for life after high school at all.

I did go to college and have a bachelors degree now but I am not very happy with the area I studied. I'm also having difficulty finding work. I don't think I'm very interested in what I do.

If I could go back, I would go to a vocational high school. It could have helped me realize what my real interests are and what I would be most happy doing after school. Now I feel kind of lost.

Do vocational high schools have courses in design or fashion? I think that's what I would have wanted to study if I had been to one.

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