Interview with Jenny Wagner
K-12 Relations Associate
Moraine Park Technical College (10:27)
Announcer: This is Making Futures; helping individuals discover their passion and fulfill their potential.
Interviewer: Today I'll be talking with Jenny Wagner, the K-12 Relations Associate from Moraine Park Technical College and we'll be speaking about Youth Options. Jenny, first off, what is Youth Options?
Jenny: Youth Options is a program opportunity for students in grades 11 and 12 who are enrolled in a Wisconsin public high school, to attend a Wisconsin Technical College and they can take courses for both high school and college credit at the same time.
Interviewer: That sounds great! So, at what point might students enter this as sophomores? Or freshman?
Jenny: If you're a public high school student entering your junior or senior year, and you're in good academic standing that is when you can qualify to take the college courses. They're really set up for that junior or senior.
Interviewer: Ok, when you say qualify, what does that mean? What are the qualifications? What do you have to have?
Jenny: Well each high school district really determines what the qualifications will be; however we look at good academic standing. Students should really be doing well in their high school course work in order to have the opportunity to start taking college level course work. Some K-12 districts will implement a 2.0 GPA, for example, in order for students to qualify this, where as other high school districts may say they have to have a 3.0 GPA. So it's really up to the specific high school district as to who they determine to be in good academic standing and not at risk. At risk, could be anywhere from a student that is truant or a student that is failing to meet graduation requirements at the high school level. So it really does come down to the K-12 district making that determination; if the student is ready to take on that next step and take on college level course work.
Interviewer: So, how do these students get started? I mean, does a teacher recommend them? Do they have to go to their counselor and ask?
Jenny: How a student gets started is to meet with their high school guidance counselor and first determine if they're eligible for the Youth Options Program. And that eligibility, again, comes down to being a junior or senior in high school, being in good academic standing, not being an at risk student, and meeting that deadline for applying, which, the deadline for applying to your school district is March 1 for the fall semester, and October 1 for the spring semester. And the school district will sit down with you and help you pick out the courses that meet what you're trying to accomplish. So if you're a senior in high school and you know that you're going to go on for a nursing program for example, the best start for you would be to take the Certified Nursing Assistant class as a Youth Options student. So really working with your school counselor and planning out where you see yourself beginning college and taking courses that are going to apply to your college program. What happens next is that the school district will send the paperwork to the school board and the school board approves that. And then the paperwork is sent to myself, at the college, and then I work with the students directly to get them registered for the courses and get them set to start their courses.
Interviewer: So, what are some of the benefits to Youth Options? It sounds like you can take classes before you're in college, so that must save money?
Jenny: Yes, it really does. Youth Options students, they're really provided the opportunity to begin their college career while they're still in high school. And the great thing about it, is that it is at no cost to the student. Through this program a public high school student can earn up to 18 college credits during their junior and senior year. The school district pays for the tuition, and the school district also pays for the textbooks. In some cases, students are required to have a uniform, or certain materials for a class, and those expenses are the responsibility of the student. A student could earn up to one semester of college credits while they're still in high school, which can save thousands of dollars for a student.
Interviewer: Now, you mentioned nursing. What are some of the other career fields that are available through this program?
Jenny: It really comes down to what the student is interested in. There's really not a set plan of courses that are available for Youth Options. As long as the course that the student wants to take at the technical college is not a comparable course to what is already being offered in the high school, the student is eligible for that course. So, at times we may have students who may want to start taking some general education coursework, for example - maybe a written communication class, or a mathematics class, however those may not qualify, because the high school does have a comparable course to that. Now if we look at technical college core courses; welding courses or marketing courses, accounting courses, those are just a few examples - the high school more than likely doesn't have a comparable course at the level of the technical college course, so then a student would be eligible to go into that course at the college. That is where the high school really makes that determination, as to if there is a comparable course already being offered at the high school.
Interviewer: Where can people go to find out more information, perhaps online, about Youth Options?
Jenny: If you want more information on the Youth Options program, you can visit the DPI website and search for Youth Options. There's a great "Frequently Asked Question and Answer" document that DPI has put together. In addition, each technical college has information on their websites about Youth Options, and the Wisconsin Technical College System also has a Youth Options page online. We also tell students when they call the college that really, their first step, is to talk with their school counselor. Because, the technical college doesn't necessarily make the decision if a student can be a Youth Options student. That comes directly from the high school and once the high school approves the student, then the technical college staff are made aware of that and help the student get started with the program.
Interviewer: I just thought of one other question, and that would be transportation? Are students responsible for their own transportation?
Jenny: Yes. Students are responsible for their own transportation. In certain circumstances, depending on the student's economic status, there may be an opportunity for funding to assist them, but in nearly all cases, a student is responsible for transporting themselves to and from campus for their courses.
Interviewer: Anything else that we should mention about Youth Options, Jenny?
Jenny: The one important piece that I always like to point out to students about Youth Options is that, they should really take the program seriously. Students are given this opportunity to take college level coursework, and they're having their tuition, and their course fees and their books paid for by their school district and what a student really needs to keep in mind as they're going through this program, is that if they're not doing well, they're not passing their classes successfully, they may have to reimburse their school district for those course fees. So whenever I meet with students, I always stress the importance of the rigor of the college coursework and that they have to be prepared to step into that role as a college student versus a high school student.
Interviewer: Very good point to make Jenny. I've been speaking with Jenny Wagner, K-12 Relations Associate at Moraine Park Technical College about Youth Options. Thanks Jenny.
Jenny: Thank you.
Announcer: Making Futures is a presentation of Wisconsin's 16 Technical Colleges. Thanks for listening.