A vocational high school is a public or private learning institution that differs from traditional secondary schools in many ways. Students at vocational schools typically receive more hands-on, career-minded education than students at traditional schools. Individuals are given the opportunity to explore and identify potential career goals, and are provided with the resources needed to achieve them. Most vocational schools recognize the importance of general academic studies as well as career preparation, and offer fully accredited high school diplomas. Depending on a student's abilities and interests, a vocational high school can provide several advantages.
At a vocational high school, a student can meet with trained guidance counselors and choose a program that will best prepare him or her for college, post-secondary technical school, or a career immediately after graduation. Counselors and school officials help students evaluate their goals and potential, and place them in programs that best suit their interests. Vocational learning helps individuals learn the tools and techniques that are vital to certain occupations, gain hands-on experience with different technologies and machines, and develop problem-solving skills that will help them in any career path.
Many vocational high schools provide students with career preparation in health care, computer science, education, business, and any number of highly specialized trades. Individuals have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to become carpenters, electricians, machinists, painters, plumbers, or other professionals. Some programs administer licensing or certification examinations in such programs that allow students to become eligible for employment immediately after graduation.
While programs certainly emphasis career development, they do not fail to provide students with well-rounded educations. A typical vocational high school program splits its curriculum between job-specific courses and classroom instruction on more general subjects, including math, science, language arts, and physical education. Vocational school students are usually required to complete classroom and homework assignments very similar to those given at traditional high schools.
Another major advantage of a vocational high school is the availability of job placement resources. Guidance counselors at these high schools typically have access to career information and a number of different resources for students who want to find immediate work while attending courses or after they graduate. In addition, many employers and labor unions are closely affiliated with vocational schools, and give preference to job applicants who have completed such programs. With recommendation from guidance counselors and teachers, many students are able to obtain paid apprenticeships or entry-level jobs with ease.