There is a popular trend in vocational schools in California to portray them as a more direct way to get the education you need for a career without all the extras that a traditional college requires of its students. And, if you look at it from a historical perspective, it is true.

Today’s vocational schools are a descendent of apprenticeships taken by young people in the early American colonies to learn a trade. In fact, virtually any young person with aspirations purposely took an apprenticeship in order to have even a hope of a career. Paul Revere, of the midnight ride fame, apprenticed as a silversmith and as a result is noted for his high quality work. Even in what are called the professions, apprenticeships were common as is illustrated in the case of Abraham Lincoln who apprenticed as a lawyer.

In part because of the influence of early colleges such as Harvard, which stressed the importance of a better approach to educating the whole person, apprenticeships eventually evolved into the idea of the vocational schools we have today.

So when faced with the question of whether a vocational school is a college or not, the best answer is probably yes and no. Because a vocational school does not normally cover the broader subjects of what some would refer to as a classical education, which includes subjects such as math, history, English,, the answer would be no. On the other hand, a vocational school is a college because it is an educational step beyond the basics of high school, and trains students in a specialized course of instruction to succeed and grow in their chosen careers. It is also worthy of note that most vocational schools offer courses such as business or additional certifications to support those who wish more education to further their skill set and career. An example of this might be courses in business math as it relates to health care or other areas.

In recent years, more and more vocational schools in California have embraced a more diversified set of courses to support a student’s vocational training. This is to fulfill the need for additional coursework that will enhance a student’s opportunities to grow in their chosen careers.