Registration for classes next year is coming up and Prairie students have a lot to consider. One thing being vocational tech courses.


A vocational tech class is a graduation requirement which can bring up a plethora of questions for students. Like, what exactly is a vocational course? Why are they a required credit? What differentiates vocational from elective? Or, what is the most practical course to take?


According to Mary Gudenkauf, the Career Development Specialist at Prairie High, “The vocational courses are skills based courses in terms of exploring a variety of pathways.” Essentially, vocational classes are classes that prepare you for the real world.


Vocational courses at Prairie include everything from Engineering and Auto Tech to Foods and Child Development. So why are these courses required for graduation? Gudenkauf explained that just as PE and CPR are requirements, a vocational course is as well.


“The district also wants you to have a vocational class so that you can get into a skills based class and learn more about a variety of occupations. That’s important because when you’re in high school you need to explore and investigate as much as you can.”


The variety of said classes is insane at Prairie. The school offers courses in repairing cars, or balancing finances, or even building houses. Many of which are classes that actually do prepare you for the real world.


However, vocational courses are meant to let students explore different careers, so why do some classes count as vocational and some don’t? For example classes like News Lab or Performing Arts Tech only count as electives when they are classes that can extend into career opportunities.


Angela Amunson, Guidance Counselor at PHS, shared how vocational classes have been defined at Prairie. “Any of that career to work type stuff traditionally is [vocational]. That’s why in the past few years we’ve expanded it to any of the career and vocational stuff at Kirkwood or in internships. Anything that’s related to what the student’s career interest may be.”


So if you’re truly passionate about your career interests, maybe talk to your counselor and see if what you love could count as your vocational credit. And if you’re slightly less passionate and actually a little confused on which course to take, you should also go talk to your counselor.


Most likely they’ll tell you to take Personal Finance, argued the most practical class at Prairie. It’ll teach you how to manage a budget and how to adult (in terms of money at least). Gudenkauf stated, “I think every student who graduates should take Personal Finance.”


If the word of an adult doesn’t convince you, take it from a senior. Emma Kossayian, a PHS senior on her last semester of high school education, said “It’s the only class I will ever use in the future.”


So Personal Finance could be the way to go, but if not there are plenty of other options and career based classes to choose from. Whether you’ve already taken a vocational course or still need to, it can’t hurt to take another or sign up and experience all that Prairie High School has to offer.

If you’re curious about the vocational classes available, check out the Program of Studies for 2018-19. Vocational classes will be the Business, Family and Consumer Science, and the Technology courses.


One comment

  1. Nicole,
    I appreciate your approach to this informative piece on the vocational course offerings here at PHS. You have great organization within your article in regard to the contributions of your interview subjects and you offer practical insight to paths of study for PHS students. You clearly establish your intended audience as not only students, but also staff members as we examine the courses we have available for students. Thank you for taking on this important topic to share with a larger audience.

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