Hundreds of this year’s NJ vo-tech seniors already have college degrees
In what it said was a record-setting year, the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools reports that 216 seniors at 11 such schools across the Garden State not only have a high school diploma to celebrate this month, but also an associate degree.
Council executive director Jackie Burke said the number of vo-tech students in the state who have received such degrees has jumped by about 25% since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic more than two years ago.
The ever-growing partnership between the state's vocational-technical schools and its county colleges, spurred by both increased college credit opportunities and a crucial 2018 state grant, has further diversified the many fruitful paths a young adult can take as they near the end of their education and join the workforce.
In some cases, multiple paths are available just steps away from each other: The Paramus campus of Bergen Community College is also home to Applied Technology High School, for instance.
"Our schools recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all. The majority of our students do go into college, but there are opportunities to take the learning and go directly into the field," Burke said, adding that apprenticeships and two- and four-year colleges are still all solid options. "They really are unique in getting students prepared for a career, and allow them a lot of opportunities that you don't see in other schools."
Money remains the bottom line, and Burke said cost savings play a significant role in the usefulness of vocational-technical schools.
"Parents of students always appreciate the value of a head start on college, especially now with the price of everything going up, including college tuition," she said.
And, Burke said, employers will sometimes pay for a student's education as a condition of hiring, fostering an attitude of "lifetime learning."
"That's a win-win for the employer and for the student, because employers will cover the cost in a lot of circumstances for their employees to continue their education," she said.
Among the 216 vocational-technical seniors who are walking away with additional associate degrees this year:
- 54 are from Cumberland County Technical Education Center;
- 44 from Ocean County Vocational Technical School;
- 29 from Bergen County Technical School District;
- 25 from Somerset County Vocational and Technical Schools;
- 23 from Essex County Schools of Technology;
- 14 from Hudson County Schools of Technology;
- 10 from Gloucester County Institute of Technology;
- 9 from Salem County Vocational Technical School District;
- 5 from Atlantic County Institute of Technology;
- 2 from Morris County Vocational School District;
- 1 from Mercer County Technical Schools.
For more, visit careertechnj.org.