Many high school students earn college credit through Wisconsin's technical colleges

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Don’t let the braces on his teeth fool you. Bo Huss is on the fast track to a career. At 16, Huss attends Hortonville High School and takes classes at Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC). He also works part-time at Tom-Cin Metals.

Among students enrolled in Wisconsin technical colleges in 2011, more than 18,700 brought some tech college credits earned while they were in high school. This is up slightly from 2010.

Nationally the number of students taking courses earning both high school and college credit has increased 71 percent since 2002-03. According to a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), high school students took 2 million college courses in 2010-11, up from 1.2 million in 2002-03.

Huss is enrolled in the Youth Options program that allows him to earn high school and college credit simultaneously for certain approved courses. He is pursuing a degree in welding, a high demand skill set that pays an average $17 per hour.

If you're a public high school student entering your junior or senior year, and you're in good academic standing you may qualify to take the college courses. Through this program, a public high school student can earn up to 18 college credits during their junior and senior years. The school district pays for the tuition and for the textbooks.

Another option for dual credit is transcripted credit. These are technical college courses taught by high school teachers using technical college curriculum, grading policies. The tech college administers this program and partners with the high school to ensure success for the students.

In 2010-11, for example, high school students in Moraine Park Technical College district earned over $1.2 million worth of college credits – 4,183 took transcripted credits with a total of 9,871 credits completed. There are 216 transcripted credit agreements with public schools in Moraine Park’s district.

Wisconsin’s technical colleges have been offering dual credit opportunities for 20 years. Over that period, they have expanded into new program areas, made a significant contribution to rural schools, and offered ever greater opportunities for high school students to get a jump on higher education.

On April 30 the colleges will celebrate this milestone with “Dual Credit Day” events throughout the state.

High school students should ask their counselors and Career and Technical Education teachers about these opportunities to get a head start on a college education at a lower cost. Check out our Youth Options podcast for more information.