I was unable to follow the Mon-Wed-Fri schedule for the blog this week and missed Wednesday. I hope you are not too upset by my unpredictability as you drink a vat of steaming fresh coffee and tackle that pesky homework assignment. Most people love the security and comfort of a routine, and though they won’t admit it, many students find their school classrooms comforting. It gives them a sense of normalcy. Yet some students seek to learn outside of the classroom and gain hands-on experience. This need may not be satisfied simply by joining clubs or finding an internship independently. A great way to learn in a structured setting but outside of the four walls of a classroom is to enroll in the Regional Occupational Program (ROP).
ROP is career training and allows high school juniors and seniors the chance to develop real world skills. These courses combine lectures with activities or internships that allow students to apply their classroom knowledge. Contra Costa County ROP program includes courses such as Veterinary Science, Computer Graphics Art, Radio Broadcasting, Cabinetmaking, Sports Medicine, and many more. Most ROP courses are taught off-campus at centralized settings and require the students to have a reliable source of transportation. However some ROP classes may be taught at your high school. In the city of Fremont, most ROP courses are offered in the Mission Valley ROP building but some are offered directly at Mission San Jose High School such as Digital Imaging. Fremont city MVROP courses include Biotechnology, Fire Science, Nursing Assistant, and many others.
ROP courses are differentiated from normal high school courses through their intensive practical training. For example, the veterinary science course in Contra Costa consists of lectures in animal anatomy and physiology combined with labs and after-school training at real veterinary clinics. One of my friends took the Nursing Assistant ROP course in her hometown in Livingston and had the opportunity to actually help nurses deliver babies. The pros of ROP courses are obvious because of the great experience you get. The only real downside might be the fact that you may have to travel to your ROP site, which requires you to either drive or take the buses.
Overall, you can seek experiences outside of the classroom but still learn in a structured setting through ROP. The aim is to build career skills which can help you obtain internships or jobs. At the same time, you also develop a larger network of contacts in your community because you can work with and observe real professionals. These people may offer you an after-school job or a letter of recommendation. Since this program is open to juniors and seniors, sophomores should talk to their high school counselors as soon as possible to learn more.
Fremont, CA: http://www.mvrop.org/web/index.html
Hayward, CA: http://edenrop.org/
Contra Costa County: http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/stsvcs/rop.html
Santa Clara County: http://www.sccoe.k12.ca.us/depts/scrop/
Pleasanton, Dublin, and Livermore: http://www.tvrop.org/Schools/Pleasanton-Unified-School-District/index.html