While many technical and vocational school students are only seeking the skills and certificate they’ll earn through their vocational courses, some others use vocational schools as a stepping-stone to higher education.
If this is the course you’re planning, there are a few things to consider as you make the transition. And remember, even if it’s not your plan today, in 5 years you may well want to go on in your schooling part time…so think this trough carefully.
For many University graduates, the realization that they have no marketable skills comes as a horrible jolt….and returning to a career or vocational college becomes the only realistic path to employment beyond burger flipping!
Here, we’ll take a look at the top 5 transition concerns
If you are a University graduate returning to a career or technical school, think of the next bits of advice in reverse.
1. Credit Transferal
Transferring your credits to a four-year college or university…or to a career college…. is one of the most important steps in making the transition. After all, if your credits don’t transfer, the time you spent at vocational school is essentially wasted from a life long learning perspective.
Long before you enroll in a vocational or technical school, ensure that it is fully accredited to grant the particular certificate or degree you’ll be obtaining.
You can check this online, through your state’s education website, as well as by speaking with the admissions offices of both your vocational and traditional schools. Ask which credits will transfer (ideally all) and what the process involves.
In most cases, you’ll simply be asked to provide a transcript of your vocational school grades in order to transfer to credits and put them toward a four-year degree. This can take up to 2 years off a degree program.
2. Housing Changes
The vast majority of vocational school students are still living at home with parents. Since most traditional colleges and universities house students on-campus, this can be a big change.
In order to prepare yourself and reduce the anxiety that can sometimes come with a change in living situations, visit your new campus long before moving day.
Check out the dorm or apartment where you’ll be living and, if possible, meet your new roommates. Purchase any furniture or appliances you’ll need and have them packed and ready to ease the stress of moving.
Many transfer students are now adults and are going back part time. They may be living with their own families and children. Think carefully…where will you study each day? What agreements do you need with your family about work time?
3. Classroom Changes
Although the environment of every class is different, there are some generalized differences between vocational school and college classes. In general, vocational school courses are designed to obtain degrees and certificates quickly and with a real focus on employable skills.
Therefore, each and every class matters and attendance is taken more seriously.
In a traditional college setting, you’ll find that attendance is not looked at quite so severely. Many classes are graded solely on test scores, which means that missing a few classes isn’t as big of a deal.
Perfect attendance is always encouraged, but most traditional college students report that there is far less pressure placed on attendance than at their previous vocational or technical schools.
For those going from University to College….do NOT miss classes or labs. This is your chance for real employment. Dig in!
4. Campus Atmosphere
Although there are many exceptions, in general, vocational and technical schools have more adult students than traditional four-year colleges and universities. Due to this, many students find that the atmosphere on campus is very different.
A traditional college may have a ‘party’ atmosphere, for example, while most vocational schools are much more focused on classes and many of the students are much more mature with no time for “fooling around”.
While the atmosphere of a school doesn’t need to affect your own educational experience, being aware of the differences can help you prevent being swept up in a party atmosphere at the expense of your grades.
5. Hands-On and Textbook Learning
Perhaps one of the hardest transitions for vocational students to make is the change from hands-on learning to learning solely from textbooks. While this doesn’t apply to every class or every school, vocational schools are generally more hands-on than traditional four-year colleges.
As you advance through a four-year college, depending on your chosen major, you may encounter many more hands-on courses. During your first year, however, you’ll probably find a great deal of your time taken up by textbooks.
For university students transferring to a career or technical college, the change can be even tougher. The pressure is on. Skills mastery in the shortest time means every lab and class can be a make or break. Skills are tougher to master at home, so hands on time at the College is crucial.