Plan Your Education

Reality-Based Learning

Move Beyond the Books to Real-World Experience

Entering the workplace requires more than solid test scores and a mastery of the assigned texts. Today's employers want people with hands-on, real-world experience. As you plan your education, reality-based learning or participating in programs and associations that move beyond the books and offer hands-on experience need to be part of that plan.

Here you'll find the information and resources you need to:

  • Participate in programs, apprenticeships, and internships that supplement traditional book learning with specialized, hands-on experience;
  • Find fast-track training programs that get you ready for a change in careers or launch you into the workforce;
  • Join professional associations or organizations that provide members a chance to network with people already in the field and competitions that mimic real workplace challenges. 
Career Academies

Reality-Based Learning through Academies, Alliances, & Apprenticeships

Career Academies, also called Tech Prep, or small learning communities, provide high school students or recent graduates specialized instruction and hands-on experience in fields such as advanced manufacturing, aviation, and healthcare.

Some Career Academies last for a few days and help you explore a potential career, including the types of work involved and the education, training, and skills needed. For example, OSU-Okmulgee's Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics Program held a three-day summer academy to attract prospective students.

Other Career Academies involve a year or more of hands-on instruction, apprenticeships, and internships designed to move you from school to work and/or continued instruction and certification.

For example, Yukon Public Schools offers small learning communities (SLCs) and two Career Academies: the Medical Professions Academy and the Hospitality Pathway. The SLCs offer students an opportunity to explore a variety of careers and hone their leadership and study skills. The academies prepare students for careers in the healthcare or hospitality industries through community college instruction and internships.

Contact your local school district today, and find out if they offer any Career Academies or SLCs.

Summer Academies in Math, Science and Technology

Middle and high school students can get hands-on experience with biotechnology, global positioning, genetics, endangered species, statistics and other fascinating math and science exercises at 22 Summer Academies at 17 college campuses across the state.

Sponsored by the State Regents, all the Academies are free, even in cases where students live on campus. See Summer Academies for a full list of Academies, including descriptions and contact information, or call 800-858-1840.

Pre-Engineering Career Academies Sponsored by CareerTech

A partnership between CareerTech and Oklahoma State University, this program provides high school students with a sequence of pre-engineering courses and higher-level math and science courses to better prepare them for college engineering degree programs.

Offered in several technology centers throughout the state and in partnership with high schools and colleges, the pre-engineering partnership also offers a strong teacher training component. These academies are free to students within the district of the technology center closest to them. For more information, contact Robin Schott, or 405-743-5432.

List & Locations of CareerTech Pre-Engineering Career Academies

Academy TypeTechnology Center & Contact
Pre-EngineeringFrancis Tuttle
Malcolm Fowler
Pre-EngineeringGordon Cooper
Mike Matlock
Pre-EngineeringCentral Tech (Sapulpa H.S.)
Judy Robinson
Pre-EngineeringTri County
Tammie Carlson
Pre-EngineeringGreat Plains
Karen Bailey
Pre-EngineeringCaddo Kiowa
Marcia Harmon
Pre-EngineeringMoore Norman
Steve Couch
Pre-EngineeringTulsa Tech
Kent Inouye
Pre-EngineeringMetro Tech
Ed Melott
Pre-EngineeringCanadian Valley
Clark McCaskill
Bioscience & MedicineFrancis Tuttle
Jody Wemhaner
Biomedical SciencesCanadian Valley
Sandy Denton
Biomedical SciencesClaremore H.S.
Denise Radcliff
BiotechnologySouthern Technology Center
Fiona McAlister
Architecture & ConstructionFrancis Tuttle
Carla High

College Credit at CareerTech

Created by the State Regents and CareerTech, Cooperative Alliances allow adults and qualified high school or home-schooled students to receive college credit in technical courses at partnering technology centers that lead to a certificate or an associate's degree in Applied Science.

For more information about eligibility requirements and costs, contact your local CareerTech campus.

Academic Commitment to Education (ACE)

Academic Commitment to Education (ACE) is a high school course that gives young people an opportunity to get a taste of the teaching profession. Students explore such topics as learning styles and diversity issues, lesson planning, and presentation skills. They also spend time in an elementary classroom observing, developing portfolios and doing supervised teaching.

The program is funded through annual grants and is available in many high schools.

ACE is part of the state's Minority Teacher Recruitment Center, aimed at bringing more talented boys and minorities into the teaching profession. The Center also sponsors Future Educators Association groups and the Leadership, Education and Achievement Program (LEAP) in middle and high schools, as well as an array of collegiate programs.

Scholars for Excellence in Child Care

The Scholars for Excellence in Child Care (Scholars) program awards scholarships to eligible child care professionals to complete coursework in the area of child development or early childhood education. These scholarships enable child care providers in Oklahoma to improve their and continue the availability of quality child care in local communities.

Through the program, eligible child care professionals can earn a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, Certificate of Mastery, Director's Certificate of Completion, and/or an associate degree in child development or early childhood education.

For more information, contact the Scholars coordinator at your local community college or Kiki McWilliams at the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, 866.343.3881 (toll free) or 405.225.9397 or visit the Scholars for Excellence in Child Care website.

Craftsmanship Apprenticeship Programs

Craftsmanship Apprenticeship Programs involve partnerships between Tulsa Public Schools, Tulsa Technology Center, Tulsa Community College, Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, and area manufacturing companies.

They are three-year, work-based learning programs beginning in the junior year of high school. All apprenticeships are paid, with bonuses for academic and on-the-job work available. Students may also apply course work toward an associate's degree or bachelor's degree from Tulsa Community College, Rogers State University, and Northeastern State University.

The program is free, including books and materials, for all high school students within the Tulsa Technology Center District, and scholarships are available for adult students and those who live outside the District.

Many advanced manufacturing courses offered by Tulsa Technology Center include a Craftsmanship Apprenticeship Program option. For example, the Automation & Robotics Technology program offers a craftsmanship component with paid summer apprenticeships, industry-based work with a trained mentor, and professional workshops.

For more information, contact Tulsa Tech's Admissions & Enrollment Office, 918-828-5200,, or visit For scholarship information, call (918) 828-5215.

Oklahoma Area Health Education Center

Coordinated by the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, OKAHEC is a statewide network of educational institutions (elementary through college) and healthcare providers focused on recruiting, educating, and training health professionals throughout rural Oklahoma.

For more information, see Area Health Education Centers or contact Richard Perry, Director; or Matt Janey, Program Evaluator, at (918) 582-1989.

Oklahoma Aviation and Aerospace Educational Alliance

Through the Oklahoma Aviation and Aerospace Educational Alliance, high school students enroll in and receive college credit for programs that train them for careers in the aviation and aerospace industry.

Oklahoma corporations, colleges and universities, technology centers, and public schools across the state participate. For more information, call the Student Information Hotline at 800-858-1840 or contact Dr. Debbie Blanke, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, 405-225-9145.

Oklahoma Partnership for Industry and Education (OPIE)

The Oklahoma Partnership for Industry and Education (OPIE) is a northern Oklahoma-based partnership between ConocoPhillips, Oklahoma Gas & Electric, Mercury Marine, Charles Machine Works-Ditch Witch, Northern Oklahoma College, Northeastern State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Pioneer Technology Center, and Autry Technology Center.

Working together, they developed degree programs and training crucial to Oklahoma's manufacturing industry in process, industrial, mechanical, and electrical technology. For more information, contact Dr. Roger Stacy, Northern Oklahoma College, Vice President of Academic Affairs, (580) 628-6210.

Oklahoma Energy

Oklahoma Energy Resources Board PetroTech Certification Program

Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB) PetroTech offers a low-cost/no-cost program designed to train geological, engineering, and land technicians for the state's oil and gas industry.

People currently working in the energy industry can take any of the program's 14 modules for reduced fees at the Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City. OERB covers all costs for the newcomers, as long as its budget allows.

After completing the program, graduates are OERB MasterTechs and can assist degreed geologists, petroleum engineers, and land managers.

Class Schedules, Course Descriptions, Program and Scholarship Applications and More

Two Wind Energy Technician Programs in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City Community College and Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City are launching programs to train technicians for Oklahoma's billowing wind power industry.

OCCC’s 22-credit-hour Wind Turbine Technician program uses classroom and laboratory learning to cover electrical fundamentals, electronics, instrumentation and other topics. For additional information, see Corporate Learning / Wind Energy or contact: Rhonda Cantrell, 405-682-7853,

OSU-OKC is developing a wind technician program in conjunction with its existing power transmission and distribution program for linemen. The two-year program would cover both utility-scale and facility-scale turbines. For more information, contact Dr. Jerry Nielsen, Science and Engineering Technology Division Head, at 405-945-3222 or email

Wind industry analysts expect technician demand to grow as the transmission infrastructure expands and additional wind power generation projects start operations. For example, Oklahoma Gas & Electric expects to need a minimum of 60 technicians per year for the next 15 years when it completes planned transmission projects throughout western Oklahoma.