WATERTOWN — Sophomores from five Jefferson County high schools will have the chance to explore both college and career and technical education options on Wednesday.
Participating students from the Carthage, Lyme, LaFargeville, Sackets Harbor, and South Jefferson schools will visit the Bohlen Tech Center in Watertown and, if their district chooses, Jefferson Community College.
Students in BOCES technical education programs like health care and cosmetology begin in their junior year, which is why Wednesday’s trip is for sophomores.
The visit is a long-standing tradition for Jefferson-Lewis BOCES, according to Work-Based Learning Coordinator Pamela E.B. Thomas. She said BOCES has been hosting the field trip for over 18 years.
Before the trip, she visits area schools to give presentations about career and technical education courses offered at BOCES, and distributes interest cards for students to fill out.
“We’ll typically find that what’s going on in popular culture can affect what students are interested in,” Mrs. Thomas said. TV shows about car design, cooking, and law enforcement in particular draw students to those respective programs at BOCES.
She said that she finds drawing other kinds of students in can be more challenging.
“We may have students who are interested in becoming engineers, and know that the trigonometry and algebra courses they’re taking in their home districts are helpful,” Mrs. Thomas said. “But they may not realize the kind of hands-on experience they can get with longer, computer-aided design programs like we offer.”
Career and technical education programs like those offered by BOCES have grown in recent years, and interest in them reamins “solid.” Data from the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education showed that over 7.5 million high school students were taking at least one credit of CTE in the 2013-14 school year.
Mrs. Thomas said she had found that attending BOCES programs had also encouraged some students to attend college.
“They may not plan on going to college, but after taking a year of BOCES courses they’ll say, ‘Yeah, I do have what it takes to go to college,’” she said. Her data from 2016 showed that 42 percent of that year’s graduates attended college.
JCC Admissions & Enrollment Assistant Katie J. Korman said that high school students are now encouraged to start thinking about their post-high school careers earlier.
“They need to get into certain tracks if they want to pursue specialized careers like veterinary science,” Ms. Korman said. The JCC visit also allows students to complete surveys, meant to help them “link up to careers that would suit their personalities.”
Ms. Korman said that credits from BOCES programs like criminal justice and nursing can also be transferred for JCC students.
Sophomores from Alexandria Bay, Belleville-Henderson, General Brown, Indian River, Thousand Islands and Watertown districts will visit Feb. 28.