Save time and money on the way to a college degree

By Susan Pohorski

When Jasmyn Clough graduated from Beaver Dam High School in 2008, she had completed enough transcripted credit courses to count as two classes in Moraine Park Technical College’s Business Management program.  When she enrolled at MPTC she was able to hit the ground running with two college classes under her belt.

Clough didn’t stop with her Business Management associate of applied science degree. Instead, she took advantage of the transfer agreements set in place by Moraine Park and entered Cardinal Stritch University at junior status as a Business Management student in the spring of 2013. She’s on a track that will allow her to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in two years.

More and more, high school students are taking advantage of Wisconsin’s many dual credit options to gain technical college credits and skills while fulfilling high school graduation requirements. Last spring, more than 26,000 students were engaged in dual credit classes, earning more than 81,000 credits. At $122.20 per credit for degree or diploma programs or $165.40 per credit for collegiate transfer programs, that’s a lot of savings.

Four male high school students wearing Do the Dual t-shirts. Students can gain college credit while in high school.

“Dual credit attracts all types of students,” says Ann Westrich, education director – Career Prep for the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). “Students are mostly interested in Career and Technical Education (CTE). They are self-directed students who are fully engaged in a program of study and they know the direction they want to take.”

In some cases, by the time students reach their sophomore year in high school, they have completed the high school courses in a certain area and are ready for college-level work. This often happens in information technology or family and consumer education.

Dual credit options include: advanced standing, transcripted credit, Youth Options and Youth Apprenticeship. In some cases the courses are taught by high school teachers, while in other cases technical college instructors deliver the instruction. Each technical college has a career prep coordinator who oversees the articulation, making sure courses meet same standards for instruction, content, student work, and evaluation as college courses.

Wisconsin educators are encouraging students to engage in career planning at an earlier age. The current state budget supports student academic and career plans (ACP) beginning in sixth grade. A Wisconsin statute has set the goal of providing ACP services for all students in grades 6-12 by 2017-18.

By the time students reaches eighth grade, they should know what courses to take in high school, according to their career pathway. Dual credit courses could be a part of that plan.