Post-Secondary Training Options
Most careers require at least some education or training beyond high school. One career may require four years of college while another may require a six-month program at a technical school. In most cases, your career goal will determine which of the following options is the most appropriate:
Career and Technical Colleges
Students may start their education at one of the thirteen two-year UW colleges in Wisconsin and then transfer to a four-year UW University to earn a bachelor's degree. Two-year UW Colleges are also called freshmen/sophomore colleges because students usually complete their general education requirements at these schools, which takes about two years to do. Admission requirements into a two-year UW college is also less competitive than a four-year University, the class sizes are generally smaller, and the tuition is cheaper, which make these schools very appealing to many students. The state's "Guaranteed Transfer Program" allows a student to transfer all their coursework to a UW four-year school with no problem so students don't have to worry about taking wasted classes. You can go to www.uwc.edu to learn more about two-year UW colleges.
Career and Technical Colleges
Technical colleges provide affordable, career-oriented programs, which enable students to begin their careers after only one or two (or less) years of college. Typically, class sizes are kept small and instructors have worked or are working in the career field. Career and technical college programs vary greatly, and they are designed to prepare students for specific careers. Many courses are also offered in the evening or online to make scheduling around work adn other activities possible. There are 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System that offer over 300 different degree and certificate programs, and you can learn more about them at www.witechcolleges.com.
A four-year college education, or bachelor's degree, is necessary for approximately 20% of today's careers. A bachelor's degree can open doors, provide status, and prepare students for financially rewarding careers. All universities hope to attract bright, well-prepared students.
Four-year universities want students to have both a broad-based education and education in a specific subject area or major. In order to insure that students receive a well-rounded education, four-year universities require that students take 25 to 50% of their classes in general education courses like English, math, science, and history. Since many of the general education courses are taken during freshman year, "undecided" students can use their first year of college to fulfill general education requirements and then decide on a major.
Taking the proper high school course work is important. The stronger the college preparatory courses you complete, the more likely you'll succeed in college. High school courses should prepare you for college by developing strong academic skills. All UW campuses require a minimum of 17 college preparatory credits from high school including 4 credits in English, 3 credits in math including Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2, 3 credits in science, 3 credits in social studies and 4 elective credits. Admissions offices primarily consider academic factors, including the college preparatory courses taken, rank in class, grade point average, and ACT/SAT scores. They may also consider student experiences, work experience, leadership qualities, motivation, community service, and special talents.
The student who has not taken several of the recommended college preparatory courses may want to start at a two-year college, then transfer to a four-year college after a year or two. Degrees from a four-year college include a B.A. (Bachelors of Arts) or a B.S. (Bachelors of Science). After a bachelor's degree, some advanced degrees include: M.A. (Masters of Arts), M.S. (Masters of Science), Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education), Ph.D. (Doctorate of Philosophy), J.D. (Juris Doctorate (lawyer)), and M.D. (Medical Doctorate).
Wisconsin has both public and private four-year Universities. Information on the 16 public UW schools can be found at www.uwhelp.wisconsin.edu and information on the 20 private Wisconsin schools can be found at www.wisonsinmentor.org.
The military trains young men and women so that they can protect the interests of our country. In order to do this, the military offers qualified high school graduates a good salary and free job training. The military also provides discipline and structure, as well as opportunities for career advancement and travel. The United States military is the nation's single largest employer. It offers training and employment in over 2,000 job specialties, 75,000 of which have civilian counterparts.
The U.S. Military consists of five active-duty Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) and their respective Guard and Reserve units. Together, they offer a broad variety of ways to serve. College students who take ROTC will enter the military as officers, while academically gifted students will find excellent educational opportunities at the five military academies. More information on the Army can be found at www.goarmy.com, information on the Navy can be found at www.navy.com, information on the Air Force can be found at www.airforce.com, information on the Marines can be found at www.marines.com, and information on the Coast Guard can be found at www.gocoastguard.com.
Students who prefer a hands-on approach to learning may want to consider an apprenticeship program. Apprentices learn a skilled trade through a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Apprenticeship programs are considered by many to be the best way to receive training in the skilled trades. Apprenticeships are agreements in which employers pay individuals while they are learning their trade or profession. These programs demand hard work and dedication. Information about apprenticeship programs can be found at http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/apprenticeship/.
Employment is an appropriate option for some high school graduates. High school graduates with no vocational training will probably find that they have limited career options. In many cases they will find that they are, in reality, not entering a career field as much as they are "getting a job". In most cases they will also find that they will not be making much more than minimum wage and opportunities for advancement will be very limited.
On the other hand, businesses and industries are always anxious to find employees who are hard working, polite, punctual, willing to learn, and able to get along well with others. Of course, if a student has a particular talent or skill in sales, art, computer, etc., he/she can be very valuable to an employer.