Valdosta, GA – Saving parents over $3 million in tuition and fees during the fiscal year 2017, Wiregrass Tech’s Dual Enrollment is making a difference in the lives of area high school students. Students in the eleven counties Wiregrass serves earned over 16,000 college credits during the 2016-2017 school year. Executive Director of High School Services Brooke Jaramillo shared, “We are honored to partner with 23 high schools in our service area, along with local home school students, to offer Dual Enrollment opportunities. Each of our partners advocates for their students to get college credit while in high school, and we are thankful to work with them to accomplish these goals.”
The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), which Wiregrass Tech is part of, provided almost 50% of all dual enrollment credit hours for fiscal year 2017 in the state as stated in the Dual Enrollment Audit Final Report released by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts Performance Audit Division. In this same report Wiregrass Georgia Technical College was listed as one of the top ten postsecondary institutions with the highest number of dual enrollment credit hours. Six colleges within the TCSG system were among the list of institution that had the high number of dual enrollment credit hours in FY 2017.
Wiregrass’ Dual Enrollment was the second highest in total enrollment in the state for Fall 2017 and first in the state for highest market penetration. Wiregrass has high school coordinators who work closely with high school students, parents, school counselors, and high school teachers to help make the process seamless. In 2016 the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) marketing materials contest named Wiregrass as the award winner. The college’s Marketing and Public Relations and High School Services Department collaborated on the materials that were recognized nationally. The pieces were geared to high school-aged students using bright colors, graphics and images younger students could relate.
Students can enroll in the Dual Enrollment program as early as ninth grade. The college classes through dual enrollment are free to high school students and do not count against their HOPE scholarship or the HOPE Grant hours. Tuition and textbooks are completely covered through the program, plus Wiregrass exempts all students’ fees, which brings a huge saving to parents. Most degree level core classes taken through this program will transfer to any University System of Georgia or Technical College System of Georgia college or university, depending on the student’s major. The credits typically also transfer to many colleges/universities outside of Georgia. Another benefit for students is that those in the dual enrollment program are awarded a 0.5 boost in their HOPE scholarship GPA upon graduation from high school.
The total enrollment in the dual enrollment program at Wiregrass for the 2016-2017 school year was 1,881 students. Wiregrass had 884 students take occupational career pathway courses with 997 students who were enrolled in degree level core classes. Some of the popular programs, in order, include: Nurse Aide/Patient Care Assisting, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Cosmetology, Welding, and Culinary Arts. Students can choose to take core classes or occupational classes for college credit. High school students learn to juggle the demands from high school and extracurricular activities along with college classes. Chris Scarborough is a busy Junior at Valdosta City Schools who plays baseball. He shared this about his college classes at Wiregrass, “I’m glad I chose Dual Enrollment so that I have early access to college credit. It has helped improve my ability to manage time and to focus.”
Wiregrass creates opportunities throughout the year for schools and students to get a firsthand look at the opportunities available through technical education and dual enrollment. The college hosts Get Wired events on all campuses that highlights program areas in Allied Health, Public Safety, Technical and Industrial, Construction, and Cosmetology. In March of every year, the Business and Computer Science programs host the popular Geekfest. “At each of these events we invite businesses that hire graduates from our programs to set up demonstrations or activities, which allows high school students to see what kind of careers they could have if they enrolled in one of Wiregrass’ programs,” shared Jaramillo. “The instructors and students in the different program areas provide interactive activities for the students. Our goal is for the high school students when they attend one of our events to have learned something about a program, hopefully peaked their interest in a career choice, and have fun in the process.”
Wiregrass’ Dual Enrollment program is on target to enroll nearly 2,000 students this year. Maylee McCloud, a senior Dual Enrollment student at Valwood shared, “My teachers first told me about the Dual Enrollment program. I was attracted to the program because it can count as college credit. Being in a college class you are treated as a college student and that is important to me too.”
The High School Services Department at Wiregrass credits area high school administration, counselors, CTAE directors, and teachers for the program increase. To show their appreciation, Wiregrass has been honoring the area teachers, students and other staff the month of February because of its designation as National Career Technical and Agriculture Education (CTAE) month. High Schools offer their students many CTAE or career based program pathways and Wiregrass is able to partner with these schools to provide additional pathways.
In celebration of CTAE month, Wiregrass’ High School Coordinators have been visiting each high school during the schools’ lunch shifts to present each school with banners, stickers, and teacher gifts. Wiregrass has given away blue tooth speakers to CTAE Month grand prize student winners, and other Wiregrass tokens of congratulations to all CTAE students.
“The CTAE programs offered through our local high schools provide students with practical, real world courses that help them be better prepared for college and careers,” shared Brooke Jaramillo, Executive Director of High School Services. “Students who take these courses while in high school usually perform better in their college programs once they enroll at Wiregrass Georgia Tech, usually graduate on time with much success, and are ready to enter the workforce at higher rates of pay than other students their age. The CTAE teachers and administrators in our service area work tirelessly to prepare students for real world careers that will help them be responsible members of our local communities. Wiregrass is honored to partner with high school CTAE programs and looks forward to a long relationship with each.”
Some of the CTAE partnership programs that Wiregrass offers at area high schools include; Nurse Aide, Criminal Justice, Customer Service, Culinary Arts, Child Development, Graphic Design, Shampoo Technician, Basic Mechatronic Technician, Automotive, Logistics, Microsoft Office Application Professional, Welding, and Construction.
If you would be interested in learning more about Wiregrass’ high school programs through the state funded program called Dual Enrollment, please contact Brooke Jaramillo at (229) 333-2100 ext. 6163 or visit wiregrass.edu.