Students required to take CTE courses gain new skills

 Former Exploring Tech student Nicole Chin practices using machinery in the tech lab.

Former Exploring Tech student Nicole Chin practices using machinery in the tech lab.

The graduation requirement for Career Technical Education classes that give students the opportunity to learn practical and career-oriented skills began for freshmen during the 2013-2014 school year.  The San Mateo Union High School District describes that, “CTE is offered by the District as career and workforce preparation for high school students, preparation for advanced training, and the upgrading of existing skills.”

This requirement makes students take classes in fields they plan to study, or gives them the opportunity to study a subject they otherwise would not. To some students solely interested in visual and performing arts classes, the CTE label seems to imply that arts classes do not prepare you for a career. The reason the requirement exists is to push students one step closer to meeting the requirements for application to the University of California system.

Senior Erin Woo has worked with Girls Who Code and interned with a coding program in San Francisco. This is her first year taking AP computer science, a CTE class.

“I think that taking on a formal class on computer science really reinforced basic programming concepts that I haven’t really had the chance to master before,” Woo said.

“It’s so much more structured that taking part in a one-day workshop or hackathon, and I personally have learned so much about how and why certain things function in code that I didn’t quite before.”

Woo plans on pursuing a career in code such as becoming a software engineer or a user experience designer. She enjoys the class because it focuses on the fundamentals of coding. This allows her to apply the concepts she has learned to other projects like creative coding and android app development.

“I love AP computer science, it’s my favorite class and I genuinely look forward to learning something new every day. It makes me excited to take higher level classes for college.”

While Woo began AP computer science with a background in coding, many students begin their electives with little experience. Senior Nicole Chin took exploring tech last year with no prior knowledge of how to construct objects.

“I liked the fact that it was new to me, like I got to work with power tools, saws, and 3D printers. That was pretty interesting because I never thought I would be doing this in high school. I never thought I would know how to use a drill or a saw,” Chin said.

Chin enjoyed exploring tech, but she does mention that the popular CTE course is not a UC approved course.

“This CTE doesn’t give you the credit for UCs. The difference is that the school requires you to take a CTE and exploring tech is a CTE, but it’s not a UC approved CTE. But if you have enough language or other extra noncore classes you’re not required to take a UC approved CTE.”

To be eligible for UC admissions, applicants must have to or plan on completing the required “A to G” courseload. These are typical classes that share similar guidelines to that  required for graduation from Burlingame High School. However, contrary to popular opinion, the “G” requirement is not limited to taking a UC approved CTE course, like publications, foods and nutrition, and journalism. Rather, students can take a third year in a language course to make up for the requirement.

BHS has some courses that double as visual performing arts classes and Career Technical Education. These classes are 3D-game art & design, digital photography, art of video, and architectural design.

Although it’s early in the new semester, students are beginning to choose classes for the 2017-2018 school year. When deciding to fulfill the CTE requirement, consider taking a class in a field you are interested in pursuing.

Posted on February 27, 2017 .