What it's like to go to a vocational high school

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A vocational high school is a high school that you typically have to take a test to get into, receiving entry upon getting a high score and having good grades on your middle school transcript. At these schools, students have a concentration similar to a college major.

A lot of the time, people who go to these schools come from different towns, leaving behind their friends from middle school, but ironically still living in the same town as them.

We interviewed a sophomore vocational high school student to give you the inside scoop on what it's like to be a student at a vocational high school!

How did it feel to leave behind your middle school friends and go to a high school in a different town, while still living in the same town as them? Was it difficult?

People like to think [that] when you move schools your friendships shouldn't be affected because you still live in the same town as them. But it did affect my friendships for that specific reason. It showed me that my friendships were based on being in the same place all the time. Even before starting a vocational school, I realized that some of my best friendships were with people I communicated with outside of school regardless of if I didn't see them in classes.

Was it a difficult transition for you, leaving behind friends from middle school?

At first, it was. I was really sad because at my new school I felt like there was no one to talk to and I wasn't really making as many friends as people said I would. And for the first couple of months of school, it was very lonely, so it was a difficult transition for me. 

What was it like when you did make new friends?

When I made new friends it was nice because I was making friends with like-minded people, people who basically have the same goals as me, and all have a strong work ethic. They weren't always fooling around, and that's what I really like about my friendships with these people. They were better friends to me. People in my vocational school are nicer than people in my middle school were [as well].

What would you say is the most different thing about going to a vocational high school?

The most different thing about going to a vocational school I would say is really just the vocation, because you get to basically specialize in something that most people need to wait until they go to college [to do]. It's almost exactly like regular school, except you're getting one step ahead and extra knowledge which makes you more prepared for college if you decide to take the same route as your vocation. It's also very grade oriented. Regular public schools have honors classes and AP classes. In this school, all classes are honors classes, so it's at a very fast pace compared to regular high schools.

What would you say you like the most about your vocational high school?

The thing I like the most about my school is definitely the support of the teachers and the knowledge that I get from my vocation and everything. I think I like it better than a regular high school because it's basically giving me an intro to what college would be like, because my school is like a campus so I do have classes in other buildings and things like that, and I like that.

What do you dislike the most about your vocational high school? 

I think something that I dislike the most is that unlike a [college] major, in my vocational high school you can't switch your major. So let's say that you decide that this is not what you want to do—it really doesn't matter—you have to go all four years doing that same exact thing. So that's a downside of going to a vocational school.

Would you recommend a vocational high school to someone?

Um, I definitely think that a vocational high school is not for everybody, but I would recommend a vocational high school for somebody who thinks they know what they want to do, and is seriously trying to pursue it and kind of get ahead of the game. And even if you're not 100% sure what you want to do, at least having that extra knowledge is very good, because let's say [for example] I end up not wanting to be a personal trainer. I could [still] have that personal trainer certificate and that could be my job while also pursuing the career that I really want to do.

Do you personally like your vocation?

Yes, I like my [exercise physiology] vocation because it really excites me learning about the body and the muscles and exercising in general. I know when people think of exercise physiology they automatically think physical therapy or personal trainer, but it's so much deeper than that, and doing exercise physiology you can still be a physician or anything like that. But the thing I like the most about it is really getting to know my body, because before this I never really knew about it. The only place where they taught it was health class and they never really got in-depth—but now I could name all the major bones in your body and I could name a lot of muscles, so I really do like it. 

How will it feel to be a certified personal trainer at such a young age?

It will be very good but also challenging because in a business like exercise physiology you need years of experience, and when you're younger it's kind of hard to build that experience because you have to do internships and a lot of them aren't paid, but being certified could help me find a job and get my credentials up and I think it will be a real good thing to put on my resume.

Going to a vocational high school? We want to hear about your experience. Tweet us @girlslifemag! :) 


by Franca Akenami | 11/29/2020