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Homepage > Blog | The Whiteboard > 2015 > June 2015 > Cutting out the Stress: CTE Program Eases Transition to Higher Education

Cutting out the Stress: CTE Program Eases Transition to Higher Education


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The decision to go to college, let alone choose a major, can be a difficult one for high school graduates. Many students use their first two years to explore course options before committing to a degree, while others are interested in career training programs over traditional lecture-based classes.

To help students transition between high school and college, Murray State University in Kentucky developed the Racer Academy. Designed for high school juniors and seniors, the Racer Academy offers dual credit to those looking for quality Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses relevant to their interests. Students enrolled in the program can get college credit that also counts toward their high school work.

“Too many students leaving high school are afraid of what comes next at the university level,” explained David Black, coordinator of the Racer Academy. “CTE programs are meant to gauge the interest of current and prospective students and give them confidence after high school.”

To learn more about the university’s dual credit program, we chatted with Black and Dr. Tony Brannon, Dean of Murray State’s Hutson School of Agriculture. 

Bridging the Gap

“One of the reasons students feel like they can’t succeed in higher education is that they don’t see a relevancy in what they’re learning, or they may be scared that they can’t do the work,” Brannon says. “We’re bridging the gap to prevent and change these fears through many of our introductory courses and resources like iCEV.”

iCEV is used widely in the Racer Academy. It’s a tool that educators rely on to teach current CTE material, and one that students turn to in and out of the classroom. The platform’s extensive resources act as a supplement to what is being taught in class.

“High school dual credit courses tend to be very lecture-oriented compared to a university course. We’re seeing a lot more engagement from our students as the university incorporates iCEV into the dual credit courses,” explains Black. “Students learn better if they have a visual and can actually experience what they are learning.”

One of the reasons students feel like they can’t succeed in higher education is that they don’t see a relevancy in what they’re learning, or they may be scared that they can’t do the work...

A Fresh Start 

Like the goal of the Racer Academy, iCEV helps students kick start their careers with an open mind. From an early stage, many high school students don’t have direct, hands-on experience working in the field they’re interested in. But through iCEV and the courses they take within the dual credit program, they gain a greater understanding of what it takes to be successful.

To date, the Racer Academy serves more than 400 students in 50-plus high schools across Kentucky. High school students can earn up to 17 hours of agriculture college credits through Murray State before graduating, and when combined with other university dual credit programs or AP classes, many have entered college as a sophomore.

To learn more about David Black and Dr. Tony Brannon and how Murray State University’s dual credit program is enhancing CTE in Kentucky, check out the full case study below.

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