Things You and Your Child Can Do To Prepare for a Technical Program at a Community, Junior, or Technical College

If your child is interested in pursuing a technical program in a community, junior, or technical college, he or she may want to supplement or substitute some of the electives with some vocational or technical courses in his or her field of interest. However, many technical fields, such as engineering and computer science, demand high levels of science and math. Regardless of the career your child is interested in pursuing, he or she should take the suggested courses in at least the core areas of math, science, English, history, and geography. Look especially for more advanced technology courses in the junior and senior years of high school.

Talking to an administrator or professor from a community, junior, or technical college is a good way to find out about the best high school courses to take in order to prepare for a specific technical program offered at that college. The dean of a particular technical program will also be able to tell you about the entry requirements for the program.

You may want to ask educators at a local college (or staff at your child's school) about educational programs that have formal connections between the high school and the local college. There are many career-focused programs that are offered by a network of high schools, local colleges, and, sometimes, local employers. Many of these programs are known as "tech-prep," "two-plus-two,"or "school-to-work" programs. The high school course work in these programs is formally linked to the course work offered at the local colleges. In this way, the high school material better prepares students for the college-level work. It also starts the student on a clear path toward a college degree.

Tech-prep and two-plus-two programs often refer to educational programs offered by networks of school districts and colleges. Such programs offer students career "pathways" that link their high school classes to advanced technical education in colleges or apprenticeship programs. These programs are often called two-plus-two programs because they span the last two years of high school and the first two years of college. Thus, they are four-year programs.

These programs emphasize applied leaning-the teaching of academic material through hands-on experience. In addition, students in tech-prep and two-plus two programs receive extensive academic and career guidance from counselors and teachers.

"School-to-work" is the term that often refers to career-focused programs that have many of the same elements as tech-prep and two-plus-two programs. In addition, "school-to-career" programs also provide students with the opportunity to learn in a real work setting. Students have the opportunity to spend time at a local worksite where they can apply their skills and acquire new ones.

Adapted from "Preparing Your Child for College", A Resource Book for Parents, 2000 Edition
U.S. Department of Education