'World of Work' is Topic of Study for Middle, High School Students

Published 10.09.1998


The world of work will be the topic of study when approximately 1,500 middle and high school students from across the state "attend" Pennsylvania College of Technology for a day. On Friday, Oct. 16, the students will participate in "Tech Prep Career Day" at the College, an annual tradition which gives the youngsters a glimpse at their future career possibilities and what they need to do now in order to make those dreams a reality.

"Secondary schools are increasingly bringing the world of work into the classroom," said Dr. Jeannette L. Fraser, Penn College's Tech Prep project director. "Because of that connectivity, students are able to assign greater meaning to what their teachers are teaching them."

During Tech Prep Career Day, students will have opportunities to try out different careers through observation and hands-on activities. For example, in radiography, students can expose a "phantom body" to X-radiation; in hospitality, they can create chocolate roses from modeling chocolate; and at the Earth Science Center, they will survey timber. Every activity aims to help the students understand their interests and aptitudes.

'"We try to get students to see the wide variety of options and understand the preparation they'll need as they move through their high school education," Fraser explained.

The educator notes that many of the students participating in the event will be seventh and eighth graders. She says reaching students "as early as possible" with career information is important as it helps them make better academic decisions during their high school experience.

Fraser says students are increasingly becoming interested in technology careers, which, she asserted, "are the careers of the next millennium."

Kristine Datres, a communications teacher at Curtin Middle School in Williamsport, finds great value in Tech Prep Career Day. "I think it's important middle school students are introduced to the world of technology because they will soon be making those career decisions," Datres commented. "Sometimes, by the time they get to high school, they already have a mind-set on what they want to do. But, middle school students are still experimenting and exploring their options."

For many of the participants, Fraser notes that Tech Prep Career Day will be "their first opportunity to view a college campus." As well, the event will increase access to students who might not otherwise visit a college campus.

The opportunity can be viewed as a supplement to the abundance of career information and resources available to students. Sharon K. Waters, director of Counseling & Career Services at Penn College, says in addition to personal assistance from high school guidance counselors or college career counselors, students can find a wealth of information online and in libraries.

In addition to considering personal preferences and skills, Waters suggests looking at careers that are in demand, researching salary projections, and knowing geographically where position openings will be.

"There are few decisions in life that are more important than selecting a career," she stressed.

Tech Prep Career Day is sponsored by the College's Tech Prep Consortium which works with high schools and area vocational-technical schools across the state and in New Jersey. Tech Prep aims to make a smooth transition between secondary education and college-level education by teaching students "real world" applications of academic theory.