In today’s age of information it can be difficult to sort through everything and be sure we are making informed decisions. We may ask ourselves, Do I have enough information? How do I know this is “good” information? Now what do I do with this information?

It can be even more intimidating for high school students, who are faced with several significant life decisions as they approach graduation: Am I going to go to college? If so, which one? Should I get an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree? What am I going to study? Is college even the right path for me? 

Fortunately for many 10th grade students in Rensselaer, Greene, and Columbia Counties, Questar III is helping to make those decisions a little bit easier, and more informed. Pamela Mertz and Lynn Seftner, two presenters for Questar III’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, make yearly visits to local school districts in order to speak with 10th graders about their futures.

“Whether you want to go to college or get a head start on a career pathway, CTE programs can help,” said Mertz in her December 17th presentation at Averill Park High School. The goal of this presentation, as well as the ones given at Ichabod Crane High School by Seftner and Cosmetology instructor Rose Helinski, was to share information about CTE and let students know what CTE is—and what it is not—so that students can be better prepared to make informed decisions about their own educations and future plans.

Emphasizing the career aspect of CTE, the presenters described the practical advantages such as hands-on learning, internships, portfolios and career-related math and science. A few of Seftner’s student co-presenters spoke about how the math and science components were relevant to each course. Some examples given included learning about ratios to mix hair dye, understanding metals and gases used in welding, and studying physics and meteorology in the Aviation program.

In fact, the student co-presenters were perhaps the best sources of information for the students in attendance. They were able to share their stories, experiences and advice about CTE. The 10th graders listened to first-hand accounts of why the Questar III students chose this path for their educations, what they like about Questar and other points of consideration.

Nick Schram, an Ichabod Crane student in the Academy for Information Technology, stressed the importance of taking a tour and attending an Open House. “You don’t want to start a program and then find out it’s not in line with your expectations,” he said. “I highly suggest a tour so this doesn’t happen to you. The more information you can get, the better your experience will be.”

“Through CTE, you might graduate and get a high paying technical job, you might get an early start in the field you want to study in college, or you might even find out what you thought you wanted to study isn’t what you actually want to study,” Mertz continued. Regardless of which of these categories students find themselves in, the point made by Mertz, Seftner, and their student co-presenters was that CTE provides an alternative to the “traditional” high school diploma and experience.

It is clear that CTE recruitment sessions are not simply about gaining enrollment. Instead the focus is on sharing information and encouraging students to make informed decisions about their educations.

Interested students and families should read the CTE brochure or speak to your high school Guidance Counselor. You can also learn more by attending a Questar III Open House:

If you are unable to view the embedded video, you can watch “The Power of CTE” here.

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