T.A. Dugger students visit Tennessee College of Applied Technology

For high school students, the looming dread of picking a university can be demanding, almost suffocating at times. High schools are constantly looking for ways to better prepare their student bodies for the decision and what lies beyond it, but for some schools, these efforts may start before they even reach high school.

Seventh-grade students from T.A. Dugger Jr. High took a field trip Tuesday to the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, where students got to see an alternative means of obtaining a post-secondary education after high school.

The school’s principal, Chris Berry, said this was an opportunity to see what their community has to offer them once they finish high school.

“We want to let them know what’s available,” Berry said. “They are getting to tour the facilities and to see what TCAT has to offer vocationally.”

Students got to tour multiple classrooms on the campus and see where college students learn their trades.

The school discussed the history of TCAT in Elizabethton and the state of Tennessee, as well.

President of TCAT Dean Blevins said the college has a variety of ways to make their education as financially accessible as possible.

“We are always looking for new opportunities to partner with schools, so that students know they can get a quality education and build a career right here in Elizabethton,” Blevins said. “It is important for students to start thinking about these pathways as early as seventh grade, and we are excited to be a part of that conversation with these students.”

The visit to TCAT comes after a recent trip to East Tennessee State University’s CareerQuest program by eighth-graders, which highlighted four vocational areas of study to meet the workforce demands of their region.

Public Relations Coordinator for Elizabethton City Schools Bekah Price said when these students reach Elizabethton High School, many of their Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs set a foundation for TCAT programs.

Unlike traditional universities like ETSU and the University of Tennessee, TCAT offers its programs in trimesters instead of semesters, and will typically take about half the time, averaging between 12 and 20 months to complete.

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