Roxbury High School students pursuing hands-on training in the building trades no longer find themselves at a fork in the road when they graduate. Ongoing synergies between Thomas Edison State University (TESU) and skilled trade organizations guarantee that they have the best of both worlds.
By leveraging TESU’s Professional Learning Reviews (PLR) in assessing the pre-apprenticeship Career Connections certifications they have already earned, students in the Morris County, N.J., school can receive up to 16 college credits and potentially save $7,000 in tuition toward a college degree.
The high school’s Career Connections collaboration with TESU is the first of its kind for both institutions.
“TESU reviewed the Carpenters International Training Fund’s Career Connections program in 2022 and through its PLR methodology and rigorous academic evaluations, determined that the learning taking place in the program equated to 16 college-level credits,” noted Dr. Jeff S. Harmon, vice provost for Strategic Initiatives and Institutional Effectiveness at the University. “Students participating in the program have the option to apply those credits to an AAS degree in Construction and Facilities Support, a BS degree in Construction, or a BS degree in Technical Studies at the University; or they can obtain an Individual Learning Account (ILA) transcript with the credits applied and transfer* them to another institution.”
According to its website, the Career Connections program was developed to provide high school students with an opportunity to learn first-hand the required skills and values needed for a successful career as a skilled carpenter. In tandem with their potential academic tracks, students are encouraged to enroll in the registered apprenticeship program at the Northeast Regional Carpenters Apprentice Training Center in Edison, N.J.
To discuss the program’s value in detail, TESU staff recently visited the high school in Succasunna, N.J., to meet with faculty and students participating in the Career Connections pre-apprenticeship program. Harmon joined Ali Maysilles, associate director for Strategic Initiatives at TESU, to meet with approximately 30 high school seniors who have already earned the certification. Participants in the sessions included Tom Bender and David Iannucci, Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters; Robert Hopkins, Carpenters Local 254; Joe Youcha, Building to Teach; Mike Schloff and Hannah Patrick, Maplewoodshop; and, Patty Grant and Brandon Fishbaum, Carpenter Contractor Trust who spoke with the students. The sessions were coordinated by Frank Caccavale who oversees the Structural Design and Fabrication classes and the Career Connections program implementation at the high school.
Caccavale’s students are already proving their aptitude in the building trades and an early propensity for community service. Their latest group project involves building a modular three-bedroom Habitat for Humanity house on the school’s property. The finished home will be transported in two sections to a local site and donated to a family in need.
“We recognize that not all learning happens in a traditional classroom setting. Learning occurs in many ways, takes many shapes, and appears in many forms,” noted Harmon. “TESU has a longstanding history and expertise in evaluating all types of learning for credit and awards approximately 66,000 credits annually to students through Prior Learning Reviews, at no cost to them. Our institution has served as a pioneer in credit-for-prior learning and we continue to blaze new trails. Recently, through an $849,000 grant provided by the New Jersey Department of Labor, TESU has ramped up its registered apprenticeship PLR evaluations in the state to unprecedented levels.”
To learn more about TESU’s Prior Learning Review process and how your industry’s professional training and certifications can equate to college credit, visit www.tesu.edu/plr.
* Students wishing to obtain a transcript of their PLR credit and transfer to another college or university pay a $412 transcription fee.