Question: College or CareerTech? Answer: Both
Joyce Coyle, director of guidance and career advisement, and Amanda Powell, student services, look over study plans that help high school students attend Tulsa Technology Center. Powell is a graduate from both Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Tech.
“As you progress through school, it can be a struggle to fit core courses, electives and extracurricular activities into your schedule,” said Kelly Arrington, Career and Academic Connections coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technical Education.
High school students have to take English, math, science and history, but students who plan can fit in those classes and still learn career skills at a technology center. Arrington advises talking to technology center counselors to plan a course of study to meet graduation requirements and still take advantage of CareerTech’s programs.
“Each local technology center offers a myriad of choices for your career pathway and options to help you find a way fit CareerTech into your schedule,” she said.
Tulsa Technology Center Director of Guidance and Career Advisement Joyce Coyle said students should start planning their high school and CareerTech studies no later than eighth grade. Eighth-graders, she said, need to know the requirements for graduation, college entrance and Oklahoma’s Promise scholarships.
CareerTech counselors work closely with high school counselors to make sure students get the courses they need.
A career counselor at Red River Technology Center helps each student create a Plan of Study that shows what courses are still needed to graduate, said School Counselor Sylvia Loveday.
In addition to talking to school counselors, Coyle said, students can find help online at OK College Start, www.okcollegestart.org, and Oklahoma Career Information System, www.okcis.org.Technology centers offer some required high school classes for students who just can’t fit it all in.
For instance, Mid-America Technology Center students having trouble scheduling classes can take Algebra 2, geometry, math of finance and Biology 2 at the technology center, said Counselor Kathy McCaulla. Or students can take online classes in English, science, history, computers and some foreign languages, which MATC will pay for, she said.
Many of Tulsa Tech’s classes count for computer science credits and some count as math or science; all offer at least three hours of elective credit, Coyle said.
Tulsa Tech’s challenge is working with 24 high schools on different schedules with different local graduation requirements. Some have six-hour days, some have seven; many are on block schedules, and several have had trimester schedules, Coyle said.
“Even though it is difficult to make the Tulsa Tech and partner school schedules mesh, the career advisers and partner school counselors seem to find a way to make it work because both know the value of the training that students can receive,” she said.
Completing a career major at a technology center offers a huge advantage to high school students, Loveday added.
“For college-bound students, our CareerTech students can get up to 30 college credit hours in most programs. In addition, they learn a skill that they can use to help them pay their way through college,” she said. “If they are simply going to work, coming here first and learning a skill can double their pay after graduation.”
“In today’s society, with jobs requiring more than a high school diploma, the question is not college or CareerTech,” McCaulla said, “but college and CareerTech.”
Laura Wilson, Writer/Editor
Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education