LOS ANGELES – Thousands of college students are forgoing traditional four-year colleges for a more hands on learning experience.

Nearly 17,000 students are enrolled at Los Angeles Trade Tech College, and half work more than 30 hours per week in preparation for their career. Jennail Chavez enrolled in the construction program because she loves to build and loves to create.

“I picked a trade school because I’m a hands on kind of girl and what’s a perfect place to get hands on training than a trade school,” Chavez said.

Chavez is entering her second semester as an LATTC student. She is one of 2,000 students in the two-year construction program learning about an industry with a high demand for workers. The former foster youth wanted an education that would almost guarantee entry into a career, and not just a job.

Job placement is most appetizing to students in the culinary arts program, which is increasing most rapidly at the school. The program has grown from around 200 to 500 students over the last 15 years.

“There’s a lot of attention on L.A. as a restaurant city and with the culinary arts and baking program we have at trade tech, we have the opportunity to keep connected to those chefs those outlets that we can recommend our students to,” said Robert Wemischner, Culinary Arts Instructor.

Marisela Hernandez decided to pursue her love of cooking when she didn’t receive enough financial aid from a four-year college, but her decision wasn’t easy for everyone to swallow.

“Actually my college counselor during high school she kind of really discouraged my idea,” Hernandez said. “But my parents they really pushed me to do it so I went ahead and did it.”

Hernandez and Chavez both want to be their own bosses someday. Chavez wants to open the door for other women in the field.

“I want to have an all women construction crew. It’s something that’s rare nowadays because in this trade it’s just men,” Chavez said.” So hopefully in the future we can make that happen.”

LATTC has a College Promise Program, which gives LAUSD high school graduates one free year of college.