Careerline Tech Center and Early College: Opportunities are taken, not given

Students in the Entrepreneurship and Global Business class at CTC work on their computers

Hayley Schumaker

Students in the Entrepreneurship and Global Business class at CTC work on their computers

Jaeyana Sourya

While looking around the classroom you recognize nothing. Dazed by unfamiliar faces and surroundings, you think to yourself, “this is going to change my entire life.” However, despite being worried about specialized college-level teaching, that worry soon dissipates as you realize the opportunities ahead. This is what it feels to be a part of the academic programs West Ottawa High School offers. 

   West Ottawa High School provides kids with many opportunities to succeed in life, such as providing students with the option to go to the Careerline Tech Center (CTC) or the Early College program when they enter their Junior year of high school. 

   CTC and Early College are free programs that place students in classes they would like to pursue their interests such as engineering and more. In these programs, students gain more experience about the specialized field they are going into. 

   When going into the CTC program, students will experience hands-on learning in their chosen class. CTC also gives students the leeway at the beginning of the semester to change classes, or drop out if the students are having a change of heart. While CTC allows students to go back on their decision, Early College is a three year commitment. Students choosing to do Early College, on the other hand, do not have to be worried about being unqualified. Once a student tests in, they are part of the program.

   Newly acquainted Early College students Jr. Sarai Garcia and Jr. Eliana Wise had many worries going into Early College. One of their biggest concerns was the difference in difficulty between high school and college. Fortunately, that concern faded when school started, “Once I started I definitely could tell the classes would be harder but not as bad as I thought. The homework load is not too bad but you really have to stay on top of it in order to get good grades just like any other class,” Wise said.

Sarai Garcia and Eliana Wise take College Success Seminar, a prerequisite for Early College (Sarai Garcia)

   The difficulty of her classes was her biggest concern, but that didn’t last for long, “I was probably overthinking the classes since it’s college classes,” Garcia said. The best aspect about Early College for Wise is the block schedule, “I really enjoy how it breaks up my day. I have a block schedule for my college classes, so in the morning I have one class then I drive to the high school. Then I have an hour to do homework. After that, I go to my 4th-hour high school classes. I only have 3 classes at the high school which is really nice,” Wise said. High school students doing Early College, depending on their schedule, have one college class each day. After their college class, students have the rest of the day off until their high school class starts. 

   Many students shy away from the opportunities Early College gives since most students hear the word “college” and feel hesitant. However, the benefits of Early College surely outweigh the cons of classes being “too hard.” Some students might not want to do Early College seeing that classes start earlier (because it’s a college class), but that means near the end of the year students will end their college class early in May.

   Newcomer of CTC Sr. Alanna Knox (currently in Nursing) believes CTC is a “…good opportunity for students to try out their dream career before spending a lot of their life on it and it can help get a head start to gain knowledge before pursuing the career.” CTC is a great way to figure out which career to pursue, just as Knox is doing now. “I wanted to try nursing. I didn’t want my mom to pay for money in the future just to change my major after I already signed up for the classes,” Knox said. 

Riding wheelchairs is what Alanna Knox finds the most fun in her Nursing class at CTC (Alanna Knox)

   When exploring in CTC, students may find the job they thought they liked was not for them. At CTC a student can choose to go into Culinary class one year and if they did not like it they can switch to another program the next year. Or if the student decides they like the program they are in, they will know what profession they like in the future, and have the job experience that CTC provides the students with. CTC gives students the experience of the workplace whilst being at school, “It’s not all just paperwork. We actually get to have experience working with our classmates,” Knox said. Although CTC is a different experience and might be hard to get used to, “as long as you take it one day at a time and turn your work in, you’ll do well in your class,” Knox said.

   Though, the CTC program might not work out for some students such as Sr. Kayla Jang (previously in Entrepreneurship and Global Business) who didn’t go back to CTC the next year. The first year trying out CTC, Jang realized that she likes working in a business setting a lot. “It [CTC] taught me a lot and I wanted to do it [Business] in the future. I wanted to take classes that would help me with what I wanted to do. But that would mean I would have to take a lot of different classes so I didn’t have time for tech this year,” Jang said. 

   Through experience, Jang shows that CTC is very beneficial for students who have a career they want to pursue, and learn more about before diving into the career. “I wanted to do business in the future and I thought tech would be a good place to start learning more about it,” Jang said. While pursuing Entrepreneurship and Global Business, she found that business was a good fit for her. She then decided to take more classes involving business at the high school, such as IB Business Management and other courses. 

   All students attending the Careerline Tech Center and Early College Program have ambitious personalities. They know what they want for themselves. They lead the way into a better future taking full advantage of what’s provided for them, which Garcia believes is a great trait to have while attending Early College and CTC. 

   Garcia said, “I believe that in order to succeed you need to stay determined and want more for yourself.” Similarly to Garcia, Wise also explains that while going into Early College there is a certain attitude a student should have. “Being patient is a big one. They’re gonna dump a lot of information on you about the program and it’s okay to not understand all at once. Just ask questions and don’t give up on yourself. If I can do it you can too. Just be ready to push yourself,” she also said, “People probably think you have to be really smart to do the program but as long as you stay focused and manage your time it’s a very good program to consider.” Whilst with the CTC program, Jang says that students should attend CTC because, “You learn a lot and it’s not just through a textbook. It also gives you college credit,” but keep in mind, in order to do CTC, “you have to actually want to do it.”

   Opportunities are taken not given, and these students decided to take those opportunities to pave the way for a better future. Although these programs might not be fit for some, it may be fit for you.