Career Technical Student Organizations
Applied Academics + Leadership Development = College &
Career Ready Graduates
Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) are an integral part of career and technical education. When schools provide opportunities to apply academics and integrate leadership development through CTSOs, the result is graduates ready for college and career.
CTSOs in Oregon
In Oregon, the Department of Education has approved six CTSOs and is working to expand to eight organizations, including:
Emerging Leaders & Entrepreneurs
Develops student leaders in Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Management, Finance and Hospitality Education
Future Business Leaders of America
Develops student leaders in Business and Information Technology Education
Develops student leaders in Agricultural Education
Family, Career and Community Leaders of America
Develops student leaders in Family and Consumer Sciences Education/Human Resources Education
Future Health Professionals
Develops student leaders in Health Sciences Education
Develops student leaders in Technical, Skilled, Engineering and Industrial Education
Technology Student Organization
Develops student leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [in planning phase, not yet offered in Oregon]
CTSOs are Exceptional
Exceptional Opportunities for Students
CTSOs provide students with the opportunity to extend learning from the classroom to the community and beyond. CTSOs provide opportunities for students to develop and enhance the skills they will need to be successful in their future career and leadership endeavors. Oregon’s CTSOs provide over 300 different programs for students to explore careers and showcase their knowledge and skills. CTSOs make learning fun, exciting, and rewarding.
Exceptional Tools for Teachers
A central element to all education and CTSOs is the classroom teacher. Teachers serve as the “advisor” to local CTSO programs and enable the organizations to exist on campus and to be used as classroom tools. Serving as an advisor is akin to a physical education teacher who is also an athletic coach; except, a CTSO advisor is a college and career coach whose “season” runs all twelve months of the year. And, unlike sports that have limits to the number of players that can join the team, participation in CTSOs is open to every student.
CTSOs have an excellent reputation for providing life enhancing opportunities. CTSOs are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and thousands of industry and trade associations across the nation.
Exceptional Engagement of Industry
The interaction between CTSOs and business & industry is especially meaningful as it allows employers to contribute directly to the student’s education. Representatives of businesses & industries play important roles in classroom instruction, chapter activities, and competitive events. Additionally, through participation in CTSO activities, students attain and showcase career skills to industry professionals who provide feedback, coaching, training and recognition.
CTSO Education Impact and Benefits
CTSOs as an Education Motivator
Management and leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner share in their acclaimed book The Leadership Challenge, “If you aren’t excited about what you are doing, you are not likely to get very good at it. And, if you are not very good at something, how will you ever get paid very well for it?”
CTSOs unleash opportunities for students in a supervised, encouraging, and positive environment where students can learn from success and failure; grow confidence and skills through progressive career development; and gain recognition and feedback from real world employers. Students have the opportunity to not only explore careers, but to explore the specific skills and knowledge sets required to be effective in these careers. Students learn first-hand if the career aspiration they have is actually a “strategic fit” for their future.
In the end, CTSOs are among the greatest tools educators can use to help students find career areas they are excited about and then acquire the skills necessary to become “very good” and proficient.
In Oregon, there are 9,000 students in nearly 250 CTSO programs throughout Oregon. Nationally there are 1.5 million students involved in CTSOs. This means every 17 seconds a student joins a CTSO and makes a positive decision for their future. To reach our full potential as a State and Nation, all stakeholders need to work together to reach the goal of every second a student joining a CTSO so all 15 million high school students have a shot a bright and successful future.
CTSOs as Quality Education Indicator
CTSOs provide application and amplification of learning and education. Simply having a CTSO corresponding with its companion CTE program is an indicator of educational activity and excellence at the school level. If a CTSO is not operating in connection with CTE and academic curricula at a school, it’s an immediate indicator that a school is not doing all they can to help students be successful in their future career.
And, while CTSO’s are co-curricular for all students, the membership aspect of CTSOs provide a student-by-student indicator of youth who are being intentional about preparing for their future. Employers and colleges both recognize CTSO involvement as a signal that a particular student has taken initiative, gained core employability skills, and is actively acquiring academic, leadership, citizenship, communication, critical thinking, and teamwork skills essential for success in life.
Add to this many other elements like recognition, awards, and other tracking mechanisms, CTSOs serve as a quality measure for schools, teachers, students, and industry support of education priorities.
CTSOs as an Achievement Accelerator
Industry and higher education do not just consider academic proficiency. They also seek indication that students have the initiative, confidence, professional skills, leadership, technical and teamwork abilities resident to take on the next opportunity.
In a USA Today news feature, Wharton School management professor Peter Cappelli says, “Employers want people to hit the ground running, they don’t want to train anybody.” CTSOs accelerate preparation for college and career through challenges, competition, training, practice, simulation and instructional tools. And CTSOs provide access to millions in college scholarships.
CTSOs as an Educational Replicator
CTSOs create communities of teachers and students beyond schools, districts, and state borders who plug into networks that share, contribute, encourage, and provide relevant and meaningful content, techniques, strategies and approaches. CTSOs provide intentional methods for bringing students, teachers, and industries together to share and replicate best practices and innovative methods.
CTSOs as an Industry/Education Connector
CTSOs provide a direct portal for industry and community leaders to plug directly into classrooms, education, and future employees. Through donations, sponsorship, in-kind contributions, and dedication of time, employers can leverage public and personal contributions to expand support for education that is directly relevant and valued by an industry.
CTSOs as a College and Career Launcher
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 70% of jobs come from a person’s network. The higher the quality and more expansive the network, the greater the chance that graduates will find the college and career fit that they are excited about and proficient at doing.
CTSOs provide a direct network to college and career through their membership aspect. Students who join a CTSO are linked to generations of past, present, and future CTSOs members that provide instant network to students. A traditional student may graduate with a network that contains perhaps family connections and fellow students from high school and college amounting to a couple hundred connections optimistically. When students enter a CTSO, they gain access to a network of millions which greatly increases job prospects.
CTSO as a Leadership Builder
CTSOs are a simulator and incubator of industry best practices. Conducting meetings, speaking, planning projects, providing service, and competing in career development events require application of academics, strategic thinking, innovative ideas, working in teams, setting goals, learning from mistakes, and building upon success.
CTSOs represent the single best tool for ensuring the broadest number of students participate in a curriculum-based leadership experience where they learn how to positively influence people and situations to create value and growth.