At a Glance
Erie County Technical School (ECTS) implemented practices to help prospective students thoughtfully consider which CTE programs might be a good fit for them. These practices help serve students more effectively and efficiently as they plan for their education and select a CTE program.
Admissions Coordinator Lisa Sorensen noticed that potential students were not planning for their visit to ECTS and as a result were not having a meaningful experience. However, these tours are essential tools for exposing 9th graders to the potential of a career and technical education. To address the issue of classroom interruptions and to help prospective students better plan for their visit, Ms. Sorensen worked with sending school counselors so that the eleven sending districts now administer the Holland Career Interest Inventory to every 9th grader before she presents at each sending school and before students tour the CTC. For a copy of the directions provided to the sending districts, click here. The Inventory encourages students to reflect upon their career interests ahead of these experiences. (As a reference, in 2018 Ms. Sorensen presented to 1,850 9th graders.)
The up-front work of completing the Inventory eliminated the need for general, school-wide touring of the CTC. Students only tour the three programs in which they are most interested based on the Inventory results. To further help students plan for their visit, ECTS created “Program at a Glance” forms that students and their parents can use to identify salient features of each CTE program and the related careers. Ms. Sorensen also created and distributed a document that connects personality traits to ECTS programs.
When students tour ECTS, they spend 30 minutes in each of their selected three programs during which time they complete a hands-on activity. Compared to the school-wide tours that used to take place, the new, focused tour experience is more tailored to the needs and interests of individual students. Students also feel they are creating their ECTS exploratory experience, which lends to a more cooperative atmosphere rather than a field trip concept to visit the CTC.
A major challenge to having sending schools administer the interest inventory was gaining the support of the sending school counselors so that they would be willing to add this initiative to their workload. To address this challenge, Ms. Sorensen notes the importance of establishing positive working relationships with counselors and coordinating a schedule for the administering the inventory. Quarterly meetings are held with the sending district guidance counselors. Ideas such as administering the Holland Inventory are put on the agenda for group discussion. This method allows buy in from each district and a venue to share ideas and address obstacles.
ECTS faculty find the prospective students are more engaged during their visit after conducting some initial reflection upon their CTE program and career interests. They maximize their tour time while at ECTS. In addition, the new tour practice saves ECTS time and resources.