Career preparation courses allow students to prepare and explore possible fields
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On Feb. 12, 2013, President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union Address his vision for the future of American high schools. He said, “I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy… We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math.”
Since this address, schools across the nation have focused more on career-readiness and preparing students for the workforce after college.
The realization was made that students could further excel if they were given more opportunities to bridge the classroom to the workplace. By expanding course offerings and opportunities for job shadowing and research, students can better gauge what they want to pursue in the future and how to hone their specific talents.
JC is among those schools who have made this shift. New programs have been introduced to the curriculum that prepare students for life beyond college.
The STEM Academy combines science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into a comprehensive exploration of all of the aforementioned fields.
According to the JC website, the STEM Academy is an “innovative program that provides JC students with the skills that will enable them to pursue STEM-related majors and programs of study at competitive colleges and universities…students will learn a variety of ‘real world’ applications that will prepare them for college, as well as expose them to STEM careers.”
Students who participate in the program meet frequently and take part in group activities like launching model rockets. They also work on independent research for their senior projects and perform field related service to become more involved in the community, as well as their studies.
In addition to the STEM Academy, JC now offers the Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurial Exploration (“FLEX”) program for those students who plan on pursuing business after high school.
This program enables students to gain business skills and knowledge while still in high school.
They are given resources to work on business models and pursue potential business prospects. This past year, students were sent to a conference to learn networking and how to present their business models.
The program is partnered with Harford Community College and University of Delaware so that students can participate in dual enrollment to take more advanced level business courses before starting college. This program is unique to JC and is an incredible opportunity for students in the area who are not able to pursue such a program elsewhere.
The STEM Academy and FLEX program serve the dual purpose of giving students the ability to hone their skills as well as explore their passions.
By participating in such programs in high school, students can discover if they are truly enthusiastic about the subject matter earlier in life. This can save students money and aggravation once they go to college if they decide not to pursue it.
Some are making the argument that students should not be pushed to take part in these programs as there is a greater need for traditional jobs, such as manufacturing. Opponents worry that emphasizing only professional careers will leave society with a deficit of skilled workers that are essential to the country.
While this is a valid argument, there needs to be a fine line between stressing higher education and appreciating other jobs without diminishing their importance. There is nothing wrong with encouraging students to chase their dreams and pursue careers that require more education.
The shift in educational thinking to more job preparation is one that will benefit students. Now students can get a head start on their careers and become knowledgeable and enthusiastic members of the workforce with ease.
Edward Benner is an Entertainment Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.