Northwoods high school students are increasingly taking advantage of the chance to earn college credits while still in high school through Nicolet College.
The fastest-growing and increasingly popular option is through Nicolet’s transcripted credit classes, which has seen enrollment jump 75 percent in the past four years. Currently, 461 area high school juniors and seniors are on track to earn college credits in the 2012-13 academic year. The program started between Nicolet and Rhinelander and Elcho high schools in 2009 with 264 students.
“This is a fantastic way for high school students to get a jump start on their college education,” said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster. “We’re very excited with the success of the program and expect it to grow in the future as more Northwoods high school students take advantage of this valuable opportunity. By taking transcripted credit classes, students can shorten the amount of time they are in college. This allows them to enter the workforce sooner and also typically save money on what they pay for a college education.”
Credits earned count toward both their high school diploma and college degree. These college-level courses are taught right in the high schools by instructors who meet specific certification requirements, said Teri Phalin, PK-16 coordinator and Career Coach at Nicolet. Currently, Nicolet offers transcripted credit classes in business, accounting, welding, automotive technology, and medical assistant, and recently added classes in the University Transfer program, she explained.
Statewide, more than 21,000 high school students take dual credit classes through the 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS).
To celebrate this success, Gov. Scott Walker declared Tuesday, April 30, as Dual Credit Day in Wisconsin. WTCS President Morna Foy and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers commemorated the day at a special event at Lomira High School, the site of the first dual credit career prep program.
“These partnerships not only ensure that the students know what to expect in college,” Foy said, “but the college credits they earn can also result in cost savings and an accelerated career path.”
With an estimated 65 percent of available jobs over the next 10 years requiring skills provided by technical education, the state’s economy depends on students being college- and career-ready upon high school graduation.
“We need every child to graduate from high school prepared for success in college or career,” said Evers. “Dual credit programs allow kids to earn college credit at their high schools with no cost to their families, all while gaining valuable skills that serve local communities and businesses well.”