But, Do I Need a College Degree? Understanding Perceptions of College and Career Readiness Among Students Enrolled in a Career and Technical High School
High school career and technical education (CTE) and college preparation are often treated as mutually exclusive rather than as integrated, symbiotic tracks. However, increasingly career fields require some level of postsecondary education, and access to four-year college degrees is important for long-term earnings and mobility. This two-year case study examined 16 juniors enrolled in a CTE high school and how they perceived their college and career aspirations. The study found that participants saw vocational and academic goals as mutually beneficial but experienced them through distinctive pathways. Although mechanisms to promote college-going existed, they often were available only to subsets of students and of limited use. Based on the findings, the authors suggest that high schools expand dual enrollment opportunities, provide career mentorship, and begin integration between college and career planning earlier in students’ schooling.