Vocational training has long been something of a problem in American high schools. Many education critics argue that the country is too focused on college and that’s preventing high schools from developing rigorous, high quality education that might prepare Americans for good work immediately following school.

But it turns out that many vocational students eventually attend college anyway. According to an article by Karen Farkas, at the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

High school juniors and seniors used to be bused to regional schools to train for jobs they could enter right after graduating — machining, welding and auto mechanics, for example.

Today, many students attending what are now known as “career centers” also take community college classes. And many continue their education after graduating. At Polaris Career Center in Middleburg Heights, up to 70 percent of its graduates advance to community colleges, four-year universities or trade schools.

This could mean a few different things. The most positive interpretation is that students who take vocational courses receive an education that prepares them for college. It’s also possible, however, that graduates of vocational programs go on to attend some sort of college because their vocational education wasn’t good enough to get them a job.

Either way it’s time to stop thinking of high school as divided between those who go to college and those who don’t; a lot of the people taking the sorts of courses that once led immediately to a job are going to college too. The distinction between vocational students and college-prep students is blurring.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer