The Genesee Region College Tech Prep program is helping hundreds of students each year prepare for rewarding careers and higher education, Tech Prep Director Kathryn Lopes reported to the Board of Trustees on April 12th.

The program, administered by Genesee Community College and serving students in nineteen area school districts, places a special emphasis on preparing students for careers in health care, business, information technology, and law.

Tech Prep is a nationwide movement that emphasizes hands-on preparation for careers, and seamless transitions between high school and college, and between the world of education and the world of work. Regionally, the Genesee Region College Tech Prep Consortium, a coalition of educational institutions, guides tech prep programs in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties.

During the 2003-2004 academic year, area high school students are earning 1,039 college credit hours through College Tech Prep. One thousand three hundred eighty one students have completed a career interest inventory, and 196 tenth-grade students participated in "Opportunity Days" in December, Ms. Lopes said. Students in six area districts are participating in the Tech Prep "Virtual Enterprise" program, which gives them an opportunity to learn hands-on business skills by operating their own simulated enterprises.

Ms. Lopes noted that in recent years College Tech Prep has been placing special emphasis on exposing students to high-demand careers through special initiatives:

•The Health Careers Academy, founded in 2001 in cooperation with Genesee Valley BOCES, provides students with the opportunity to earn up to 15 college credits, gain first-hand exposure to health care institutions, and "shadow" working health professionals. The Veterans Administration Hospital in Batavia recently received the New York State Tech Prep Business Partner Award for its role in the program. Currently, 46 students are enrolled in the Academy. The Academy operates in three area hospitals.

•Forty-two area high school students are involved in a variety of College Tech Prep information technology programs, and area teachers are continually developing new information technology curricula.

•The Virtual Enterprise program gives 105 area business students the opportunity to develop and market their own products. Students also participate in an annual Trade Fair, where reviewers assess their catalogs of products, pose business problems to students, and evaluate students' business plans.

•This coming fall, College Tech Prep will launch its first-ever Legal Careers Academy. Students will be able to earn 15 college credits and have the opportunity to shadow attorneys and other legal professionals.

"College Tech Prep makes learning come alive for area high school students," Ms. Lopes said. "But just as important, we're giving students practical skills and motivation that will help these students succeed as they continue their education and begin their careers."