High school students can get head starts through dual credits

April 29, 2013

From gazettextra.com: “High school students can get head starts through dual credits” — By Gabrielle Banick – Financing a child’s college education can seem daunting. Even with financial aid, and with the knowledge that education is an investment that pays dividends long into the future, many families believe they cannot fit college tuition into their budgets.

That’s why on April 30th, the Wisconsin Technical College System is promoting “Do the Dual” to raise awareness about dual credit programs across the state. Dual credit programs allow high school juniors and seniors to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. At most schools, these classes are free, resulting in significant cost savings for families of college-bound students.

How significant are the savings associated with dual credit? During the 2009-10 school year, Blackhawk Technical College registered 194 students in dual credit courses, saving parents $55,668 in college tuition costs. In 2011-12, that number jumped to 652 students, saving families $284,546.

Still, we believe dual credit is somewhat of a well-kept secret—and that needs to change. At Blackhawk Tech, the general education division has been working with public school staff and administrators throughout Rock and Green counties to ensure that more students and parents know of this opportunity. In fact, Blackhawk Tech has 34 different transcripted credit articulation agreements in place at 10 area high schools.

Nevertheless, more awareness beyond the education sector is needed to help families and students pay for college and understand that dual credit programs have other benefits in addition to tuition savings, such as:

–Employers need access to skilled workers in order to remain globally competitive. We need to supply more well-trained graduates to meet the workforce needs, and dual credit allows students to finish college in less time.

–Students deserve the chance to use their time in the classroom more efficiently and get a head start on college. Many high school students who are career focused and willing to take on the rigor of college classes can begin their pathways to postsecondary education and then to the workforce at earlier ages.

–The partnerships between our secondary schools and technical colleges are outstanding and grow even stronger when aligning curricula.

–Finally, and perhaps most important, a student who leaves high school with college credit is much more likely to pursue, and complete, a college degree. Dual credit helps students overcome real or perceived obstacles to higher education.

It’s clear that dual credit has far-reaching implications. These programs will help foster economic development and make higher education more affordable. Let’s move dual credit from a well-kept secret to one of Wisconsin’s greatest success stories.

Our state, our taxpayers and, most important, our students will be the real winners.

Gabrielle Banick is dean of General Education at Blackhawk Technical College and is a former Wisconsin Technical College System education director for articulation; phone 608 757-6320; email gbanick@blackhawk.edu.

“Do the Dual” event

On Tuesday, April 30, Blackhawk Technical College will host two articulation workshops at its central campus, 6004 Prairie Ave., Janesville. These are workshops you would normally be able to take as dual credit classes. One in math will run from 9 to 11 a.m. and one in marketing and business education will be from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Blackhawk Tech also will give out “Do the Dual” wristbands and promotional posters at area high schools.

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