(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus recently partnered with home-schoolers from Ellis County to provide a year’s worth of career exploration.
In September 2022 a group of high school-age students started the process of exploring TSTC’s North Texas campus’ program options.
The program started after Helen Bonlie, mother of one of the home-schoolers, approached TSTC to see how home-schoolers could be exposed to different career options than what traditional four-year colleges offer.
“Home-schoolers are not exposed to the same things that kids in public school are,” Bonlie said. “It’s really just like an idea of, what can we do to help home-schoolers that don’t have a clue what’s next for them?”
Bonlie said a major reason for her interest in partnering with TSTC was for her son.
“He knew he didn’t want to continue on to a college degree,” she said. “I want home-schoolers to have opportunities that they don’t have right now … whatever it takes for them to be able to be exposed to this and to see that there’s other things out there for them.”
The group spends four weeks in each program, coming to campus once a week for an hour and a half.
“We started talking and quickly realized that they were really invested in this opportunity and wanted to take it a step further than most of our people that come to us for a tour, a day on campus or an open house,” Marcus Balch, provost for TSTC’s North Texas campus, said. “They said, ‘We’d like to come every week all year.’”
Bonlie said when she presented the idea for the rotations, she never expected that TSTC would so readily agree.
“I never in a million years thought that they’d go, ‘Yeah, OK, we’ll volunteer, we’ll donate all of our time and our instructors’ time, and we’ll make this happen,’” she said.
Each rotation has looked different but provides students with an idea about what the program is and what careers it could lead to, and it allows them to participate in hands-on projects. Some of those hands-on projects have included building electrical and hydraulic circuits, learning how to take voltage readings, making key fobs with precision machining, and more.
Cole Volkert, a home-schooled student participating in the program, said that before this program he had been considering technical school but his experience at TSTC has solidified his choice.
“I would want to go to a technical college after this,” Volkert said. “I was thinking about it beforehand, but the amount of knowledge that is just sitting in these classes, it’s a lot, it’s something I would want to do in the future.”
By the end of the school year, the group will have rotated through the majority of TSTC’s North Texas campus’ programs with the exception of welding and HVAC.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.