Frequently Asked Questions
Are county vocational-technical schools free public schools? Yes. In New Jersey, county vocational-technical schools are a county-wide shared service funded by county Boards of Freeholders, local taxes, and state and federal aid.
No tuition or transportation fees are charged to parents.
Every student has the legal right to apply for admission to the county vocational-technical school in his or her county of residence. If accepted, the student’s home school district is required by law to pay any tuition charged by the vocational-technical school and to provide transportation for the student. (NJSA 18A:54-20.1)
Can my child go to college if he or she attends a county vocational-technical school? Absolutely! Today’s county vocational-technical schools prepare students for college AND careers.
Statewide, more than 70 percent of county vocational-technical school graduates pursue post-secondary studies at colleges, universities or advanced technical schools.
College admissions officers know about the high-quality education that New Jersey county vocational-technical schools provide, and many of our graduates are accepted at prestigious and highly-competitive colleges and universities.
Career-focused programs offered by county vocational-technical schools enable many students to jump-start their college experience by attending college classes or earning college credits while in high school. This enriches their educational experience and can reduce the time and cost of earning a college degree.
Do county vocational schools offer the same academic courses as traditional high schools? County vocational-technical schools offer exciting programs for students with a wide range of interests and abilities. Most are full-time high schools integrating vocational-technical programs with a full range of academic and extra-curricular offerings, including AP and honors courses. Students enrolled in shared-time programs continue to take most academic courses at their home high school.
What kinds of programs do New Jersey county vocational-technical schools offer? Today’s county vocational-technical schools are very different from the “trade schools” of the past. The schools offer rigorous, hands-on learning opportunities that prepare all types of students for college and careers in a wide variety of fields.
Many counties have advanced, specialized career academies in fields ranging from engineering and information technology, to health sciences, to visual and performing arts.
All counties offer full-time or shared-time career and technical education programs that prepare students for careers in a broad range of fields such as law enforcement, construction trades, culinary arts, graphic design, health careers, auto technology and cosmetology.
Students with disabilities are “mainstreamed” in many programs, and may also be placed in specialized programs for career exploration, construction trades, culinary arts, retail operations, and other areas.
Our school districts offer small classes and, in many programs, students have the opportunity to earn college credits and industry certifications while still in high school.
County vocational-technical schools have high graduation rates and low drop-out rates. On average, county vocational-technical school students score higher on the state high school graduation test than students in traditional high schools. Several of the specialized career academies are among the highest-performing high schools in the state.
For a list of available programs in each county, click here.
Who attends county vocational-technical schools? More than 31,000 secondary school students are currently enrolled in New Jersey’s county vocational-technical schools.
The career and technical education, hands-on learning and rigorous academics that the schools offer is a choice for students of all abilities, because research shows that most young people learn best when the relationship between what they are studying and its relevance to their lives and career goals is clear.
Our programs are also a good option for highly-motivated students seeking a challenging academic program with a specific career focus.
Can a student participate in high school sports if they attend a county-vocational-technical school? This depends on the school in which your child is enrolled, but the answer is usually yes.
Many full-time county vocational-technical schools have their own teams in a variety of sports.
However, if the county vocational-technical school does not offer sports or a particular sport, a student is permitted to try out for the team fielded by the high school in his or her home district. A vocational school student should have the same opportunity to make the team as a locally-enrolled student.
Specific issues are addressed on a case-by-case basis by the principals of the two high schools, and generally depend on whether a student’s county vocational-technical school academic and transportation schedule can accommodate the practice and game schedule of the sports program in the home district.
How does my child apply to a county vocational-technical school? The application process varies by county and program. Contact your child’s guidance counselor or your local county vocational school for specific information.
Start early in eighth grade for admission to four-year full-time county vocational-technical school programs. A student may apply to shared-time programs during his or her sophomore or junior year of high school.
Each county vocational board of education has an admissions policy to ensure that student abilities and needs are well matched with program offerings, and that the county’s overall population is well represented. The admissions policy must provide equal educational opportunity without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or economic status.
Admission decisions may consider a student’s grades, standardized test scores, attendance, and disciplinary record. An admissions test may also be required.
Twenty-first century career and technical training programs require students to meet both academic and industry standards, including state certification or licensing tests. Students must be proficient in math and language arts, and they should be willing to work hard.
Some of the most rigorous programs, such as high-tech career academies and performing arts programs, are designed for highly-motivated students who are already focused on a career goal, and admission can be very competitive.
Check the web site of your local county vocational-technical school or contact the staff directly for specific program and admissions information.