Where I go to school it isn’t out of the ordinary to see someone carrying a freshly styled mannequin’s head or a homemade smoke machine for a project. Where I go to school the students wear scrubs and work on electrical circuitry. Where I go to school is a vocational high school. Along with my normal academic classes, every other week I have shop classes. Shop classes are similar to a college major or concentration. Students pick a career path that is the most appealing to them, and they take classes in that career path for their four years of high school.
I believe that this style of education and the decision to pursue it has me more prepared for college than a lot of other people. I had to risk the loss of friendships and be nearly an hour away from home everyday to attend my high school. This experience has made it easier to come to grips with going to a school out of state.
Vocational education has given me valuable experience in having classes that are project based. A lot of students at my school need a more independent style of learning. This gives students the opportunity to do outside of the classroom research, and practice determining what constitutes a good or bad source.
Attending my school has also given me countless opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone. Every year that I have been at school, I have been fortunate enough to participate in SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA is a student run organization that holds competitions in many different areas for students of vocational schools. For me, it was an amazing way to meet students from all over my state and feel comfortable in public. When I step onto Niagara University's campus in the fall I don't have any worries about making friends. If I hadn't been able to participate in SkillsUSA, I don't think I would feel that comfortable at all.
My school also puts students in a position where we can build meaningful relationships with our teachers. Since class size is generally low at my school and many vocational schools across the country, I have had the opportunity to have teachers that feel really comfortable asking for help. My English teacher was amazing with helping me feel secure in deciding to major in English and deciding where to attend college. This not only helped me feel comfortable with my choices, but it has prepared me to work on building relationships with my professors in college as well.
People stigmatize vocational education as a place for kids who don't want to go to college or aren't motivated academically, but they're wrong. If you go to a vocational school, don't let someone tell you what you can and can't do with your education because you can achieve anything as long as you set your mind to it.
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