ACT Writing Essay Sample: Career Readiness Programs

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Essay Task

Write a unified, coherent essay in which you evaluate multiple perspectives on high school-based career-readiness programs. In your essay, be sure to:

-analyze and evaluate the perspectives given

-state and develop your own perspective on the issue

-explain the relationship between your perspective and those given

Your perspective may be in full agreement with any of the others, in partial agreement, or wholly different. Whatever the case, support your ideas with logical reasoning and detailed, persuasive examples.

Planning Your Essay

Use the space below and on the back cover to generate ideas and plan your essay. You may wish to consider the following as you think critically about the task:

Strengths and weaknesses of the three given perspectives

-What insights do they offer, and what do they fail to consider?

-Why might they be persuasive to others, or why might they fail to persuade?

Your own knowledge, experience, and values

-What is your perspective on this issue, and what are its strengths and weaknesses?

-How will you support your perspective in your essay?

Career Readiness Programs

High school curriculum is designed to ready students for future career paths, many of which include higher education. Whether or not students choose to attend college, a comprehensive high school education provides an essential foundation. Some educators argue that high schools have an obligation to provide career readiness training for students who do not intend to pursue a college degree. Should high schools invest time and money to develop programs for students who do not wish to continue their education beyond 12th grade? Given the many factors that students weigh when considering if, where, and when to attend college, it is prudent for educators to explore programs that contribute to a better- skilled workforce.

Read and carefully consider these perspectives. Each offers suggestions regarding high school-based career-readiness programs.

Perspective One

Rather than concentrating solely on students who may not pursue higher education, high schools should help all students develop valuable skills for the workforce. Requiring students to complete classes that focus on key cognitive strategies, content knowledge, and relevant skills and techniques will help them enter the workforce, either immediately after high school or later in their lives.

Perspective Two

Career-readiness training should be provided for students who do not wish to pursue college, and should be particularly targeted at students who are at risk for dropping out. By reframing their high school experience as training for successful careers rather than government-mandated learning, students can succeed where they may previously have failed.

Perspective Three

Students who do not want to pursue higher education should not be given additional accommodations in high school, because they should not be provided any incentives to not attend college. College is the best way to learn how to be productive in the workforce, and students should be encouraged to attend, since it is in their best interest.

Essay Sample

Children are often asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Little do they know, whether or not they go to college has a huge impact on their career choices. The issue under discussion is whether or not schools should develop dual curricula to serve both those students who are college-bound, and those who intend to forego college and enter a career directly after high school graduation. The fundamental concern is how to best serve all students, which I believe should be through two curricula working together.

The first point of view supports having all students pursue the same curriculum, one primarily directed at college-bound students. It essentially states that an academic-only curriculum is valuable for all students, regardless of their future plans. It is true that the ability to think critically, have a wide range of content knowledge, and be adept at the skills and techniques required to live a full and productive life, are important to all students. A well-rounded person is able to take advantage of many more opportunities than those with limited skills. Furthermore, should a career-bound student change his mind and decide to go to college, he will have the basic requirements for a successful college experience. However, if a student is determined to start his career directly after high school, the college curriculum could be a waste of his time, and he would be better served by taking courses which prepare him for his career. I am in partial agreement with option one, since a broad, basic education is important for all students. However, it is similarly important to prepare students for their future lives which may begin immediately after high school.

The second option supports career-readiness education. As stated above, it is important to recognize that some students are set on a embarking on a career after high school rather than on going to college. High school is the place to prepare these students, since it can offer the courses which are most applicable to them. Furthermore, students in danger of dropping out of high school are generally those who are uninterested or bored by the academic curriculum. Such students would be more engaged and successful if they were able to take classes which fit their goals and interests, and would be more likely not only to stay in school, but also to be well-prepared for their careers. This option purposes a dual curriculum, one for the college-bound and one for career readiness, and thus provides the best education for both. On the assumption that non-college-bound students are also taking an adequate number of general education classes, and supplementing them with courses designed to provide them with the skills they need for their careers, these students will now have a solid academic foundation as well as career skills. College-bound students will still have the option to take more academic classes, thus I support this option because it provides the best solution for both groups.

Those who agree that students who are not planning on going to college should not be offered career-centered classes are denying the fact that not all students go to college, even if given incentives to do so. This option does not take into consideration the numerous facts which can affect whether or not a student goes to college. Some students cannot afford college fees, even with scholarships, some have a low GPA which would prohibit their acceptance at college, and some do poorly on pre-college tests such as the ACT. Encouraging students to go to college is not enough to ensure that they will. Though it may be true that college teaches how to be productive in the workforce, it is also true that being a fully-qualified mechanic or electrician after high-school is extremely productive to those who choose these careers. This option is an elitist one which would disregard those for whom college is not a goal, and is one with which I completely disagree.

It is vital to all students that high schools prepare them for their future, whatever that may be. Those who choose college are well-served by an intensive academic curriculum which gives them a solid foundation for college. On the other hand, for those who choose, or are forced by circumstances to forego college in preference to immediate entry into the workforce, it is important that, along with a sufficient academic foundation, they also receive training in their intended careers. Thus the second perspective, that of providing both an academic and a career-oriented curriculum, serves the needs of both and is the most effective one for all students.

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