At a Glance
Chester County Technical College High School (CCTCHS) developed the Ascend program to provide students extensive career learning opportunities with local manufacturers that help prepare them for a successful transition to postsecondary education or career opportunities.
Through a collaboration with local manufacturing organizations, CCTCHS implemented the Ascend program in the 2016-2017 school year to expand postsecondary and career opportunities for students and to create a sustainable pipeline for new talent for local business and industry. The three-year program, which students begin in the 10th grade, provides students multiple opportunities to experience career-based learning, improve their employability skills and earn college credit while still in high school.
The program is structured so that students continue to expand their understanding of multiple career prospects and requirements as they progress through the learning opportunities. They also complete dual enrollment credits, if offered, with a partner post-secondary institution.
The Ascend program is open to all students. Over the course of the 10th grade school year, students tour up to four job sites to observe each area of its operations, such as sales, customer service, production, and design. Students also learn how to research a company, prepare for a job interview, and make an introduction using eye contact and a firm handshake. They participate in interviews with all the companies they toured. After the interviews, students indicate which companies they are interested in interning with, and companies identify which students they have selected for the internships. The Ascend project manager and the school support and career specialist then work with the companies and the students to decide on the junior year internship.
In 11th grade, students complete two four- to six-week internships at their matched companies. During each rotation, they spend up to two hours a day, twice a week at the internship. Students work in each department of the company so that they gain an understanding of the various careers available to them. After each rotation, students participate in an interview with the company. Students are eligible to receive summer work or internship offers from a company.
At the end of their junior year, students identify the company with which they would like to co-op, and companies identify the students they would like to co-op with them. In their last year of the program, seniors complete their co-op experience (as designed by BCTE). Students are monitored throughout this time by the co-op coordinator.
On average, about 10 students participate in the Ascend program each year. CCTCHS plans to continue the program and to add new areas of focus in the future. The program guides students to broaden their awareness and understanding of the various career applications of their CTE program. It also allows students to explore career opportunities earlier to see how their ideal career position is applied in many different company situations.
Chester County Technical College High school
Andrea Vaughn, M.Ed., CPP
Project Manager, School to Careers Programs
Chester County Intermediate Unit