LETTER: Vocational High School Provides Advantages

The following is a letter to the editor from Brianna White. Letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the views of WestfordCAT or its Board of Directors. To submit your own letter, e-mail [email protected]

Years ago, vocational high schools were known to many as the schools
that held the dumb kids who couldn’t make it through normal high
school. Today, vocational high schools everywhere are working
tirelessly, trying to prove this old reputation wrong, and it has been
far from easy.

One of the biggest issues for our generation, when it comes to
deciding between a traditional high-school education and a vocational
high-school education, is the mindset of our parents. Vocational
schools had a bad reputation when our parents were growing up as a
warehouse for troubled kids; a lot of them still believe it, and many
of them have yet to be educated on the great advantages available from
a modern vocational education. When our parents were our age, the kids
who went to the local tech school were the kids who weren’t planning
on going to college. Parents need to learn that this is simply not the
case anymore.

I attended Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford, one of 33
technical high schools in Massachusetts. I graduated from the Design
and Visual Communications program with my technical certification,
Adobe Illustrator certification, and of course, my high-school
diploma. I am currently attending Salem State University as a
graphic-design major, with a minor in advertising.

There are so many advantages to receiving a vocational education that
students should learn before deciding where they want to go to high
school. In eighth grade, most kids aren’t making decisions based on
their futures, how they want to accomplish their goals, or reach their
dreams; they’re most likely making decisions based on what their
friends are doing, where they can play sports, etc. Following your
best friend to your town high school is not going to help you start
your career path.

Do we “techies” go to college? Of course we do! More than two-thirds
of Nashoba Tech’s graduates enroll in a two- or four-year college. On
the other hand, I have witnessed many friends from traditional high
schools stress immensely over choosing a college due to indecision
over what they want to major in. I have also seen friends attend
college for years as undecided, switch majors multiple times, or even
drop out because they don’t know what they want to pursue as a career.
Because I joined my technical area my freshman year at Nashoba Tech, I
have known what I want to major in since I was 14. This was a huge
advantage during the college application process.

While attending college, I have a great advantage when it comes to the
classes I’m taking for my major. Freshman year, most students are
struggling to learn the basics in intro classes, whereas I had already
mastered the basics and beyond in shop during high school, and I
started freshman year of college at a higher level of experience and
knowledge than most of the students in my class. Because I went to a
tech school, I also find myself slightly more motivated and excited to
take classes for my major and to continue following my career path.
Technical high-school students complete a lot of real jobs for
individuals and companies outside of school, and this makes us more
motivated to work once we get a taste of the real world.

The best part is, college isn’t even a must when you attend a
vocational high school for some technical areas. Not only can you get
a high-paying job right out of high school, you can even get one while
in high school. It’s called Co-operative Education. After you have
completed the requisite training and gained enough experience, they
will send you out into the real world. Instead of being in school on
shop weeks, students wake up and go to work. Vocational schools will
help find you a job working for businesses around the local area, for
a week at a time, and you earn while attending school. There are
students from NT who are out on co-op making hundreds of dollars a
week in their chosen fields, rather than sitting in a classroom.

It’s a fantastic opportunity that vocational schools give to their
students, and you can’t find that anywhere else.

The average high school offers schedules where you are taking the same
classes all year long. After attending Nashoba Tech, I actually think
I would go crazy if my schedule was the same week after week. I don’t
even know how I did it before high school! It’s unfortunate that
students who attend regular high schools are not informed of all of
the awesome opportunities awaiting them at technical schools. They
don’t know what they are missing out on! This is why I try my very
best to get the word out.

Each year, the number of applicants to vocational schools is rising,
but not as much as it could be if everyone knew how great technical
schools are. In today’s market, the job search is difficult, and I
promise you that attending a vocational school can help tremendously
when beginning your journey along your career path.

Whether you are a middle-school student wondering where to go next, a
high-school student wondering if you have made the right choice, a
parent looking for options for your child, or just a concerned citizen
who cares about college and career readiness, I hope you find the
above information useful, and I hope to open the eyes of those still
living in the past.