Posted March 26, 2018 by Mark Perna
In this series, we will be looking at several foundational realities of career-focused education in today’s rapidly changing economy. Today’s blog is about the third reality: why career education is for everyone.
Let’s say you are a pretty good student just starting high school. None of the career-focused programs offered at your high school or local career center look appealing to you. You don’t want to work on cars, the electrical field is not your thing, and you can’t see yourself pursuing a career in medicine. Your passion is more for law or maybe even politics. What should you do?
Conventional wisdom would advise you to skip the career programs altogether and focus on your best academic subjects to increase your chances of getting into the college of your choice. And while that may not be a bad path to take, it completely misses the competitive advantages that could help you reach your lawyer/politician aspirations. How so?
First off, it never hurts to gain a useful, lifelong skill. Maybe you don’t want to be an electrician, but wouldn’t you like to be able to do simple wiring in your home? An automotive career may not be for you, but being able to change your own oil and make simple repairs to your vehicle will save significant money. And who doesn’t want to know CPR? If you can gain these useful skills at no cost alongside your other high school coursework, why not?
Second, these skills are not just useful to you, but also marketable in the workforce. It never hurts to have a “plan B” in case your plan A career path contains unexpected hurdles. Even beyond that, you can use the skills you gained in your career program to earn an above-average way and fund your further education in a different field.
Third, it’s just possible that you may have an unguessed genius for the beautiful precision of electrical work, the inspiring intricacy of modern cars, or the yet-more amazing complexity of the human body. What if you discovered a passion you never knew you had through a career-focused program? You’ll never know until you try. And even if you still hold to your previous aspirations, you’ve still gained useful, marketable skills that can serve you in other ways. It’s a win-win.
Fortunately, the range of high school career education programs is not usually as limited as I have painted in my imaginary scenario. But even if the choices are that limited, they are still that: choices. They create more choices and opportunities for the future, without closing any other doors. And that’s why career education is for everyone.
The first blog in this series argues that career education is a collegebound track. If your plans include a degree, go to college with the dynamic competitive advantage that a high school career program can give you. College is tough, but by making the most of your high school years with a career program, you can prepare yourself for success.
In my second piece, I focus on how career education challenges students to improve their academic performance. By engaging their intelligence in rigorous coursework and experiencing relevance that extends throughout their entire learning experience, students can perform at a higher level in traditional academic subjects.
Finally, today I’ve shared why career education is for everyone — even those students who may not fit the stereotypical career-program profile. They may do okay without a career program, but why settle for that? Why shouldn’t they give themselves a head start on the future and expand their options and opportunities? Every student can benefit from career education!
As I wrap up this series, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the value of career education. Career education is a collegebound track, it improves academic performance, and it has tremendous value for everyone. What additional positive realities you have observed?