Dual Enrollment Academy experiences significant growth
Since the 2013-14 academic year, Waukesha County Technical College has offered high school seniors an opportunity to earn college credits and industry-recognized certificates through the Dual Enrollment Academy (DEA).
It gives students a jump-start on their post-secondary education in programs that prepare them for jobs in high-demand fields. The DEA also exposes them to the college experience as they spend the majority of their school days at WCTC working in cutting-edge labs.
INCREASE IN ENROLLMENT, NEW PROGRAMS ADDED
In its first year, 40 students were enrolled in three programs. Now, in 2018-19, the academy has grown to 140 students in seven programs – with plans to expand in 2019-20. Additionally, well-qualified juniors are now welcome in DEA.
“Word has spread so fast about the Dual Enrollment Academy, and what I’ve noticed is that it’s become part of the culture in the (K-12) school districts,” said Sandra Maylen, WCTC coordinator of Early College Opportunities. “Planning can start as early as freshman year.”
The DEA maintains strong industry partnerships, which help support the programs and keep it affordable for students and their families.
To be eligible, students must have a strong interest in pursuing a career related to their program, be in good academic standing with a minimum 2.0 high school GPA, meet WCTC program requirements, and have parental and high school approval.
FIRST CLASS TO PRESENT DAY
As a DEA student in the initial 2013-14 class, Jason Koepp says the experience has led him to a rewarding career at Trace-a-Matic, where he currently works as a CNC machinist – and has been employed since he was a student.
“The Tool and Die program at WCTC was great. When I stepped foot into my first machine shop, I was confident in what was going on,” he said. “This has given me the ability to learn and grow in the industry.”
Other top program benefits include learning the fundamentals of tool and die, experiencing a trade or career while still in high school and collaborating with local companies, Koepp said.
“Being a part of the first DEA was the stepping stone to my future,” said Koepp, who also completed a machinist certificate. “It was an opening of a door to something I never imagined.”
For current DEA Hospitality Specialist student Adrianonia Williams, dual enrollment has given her inspiration and is helping her prepare for the future.
“WCTC is an amazing institution, and it has instructors who really want you to succeed,” she said. “The program is outstanding, and I’ve learned so many new skills that can be used in various career fields.”
BROTHERS BENEFIT FROM DEA
Students and their families have reaped the benefits of DEA, thanks to a savings of time, credits and money.
Max Czechowski earned his associate degree in Automation Systems Technology (AST) in 2018, but started studying robotics in the DEA program as a high school senior in 2016-17.
“There is no better use of a senior year than to get an introduction to college and an introduction to industry,” Max said. “Technical education is really practical; it makes sense. What we learn here will make us successful in our careers.”
A hallmark of all DEA programs, Max earned enough credits in his senior year to need just one additional year of studies to complete his associate degree. He is currently taking additional classes at WCTC and plans to transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Max’s younger brother, Mark Czechowski, is following his lead. Mark is now a high school senior and a student in the DEA’s IT-Computer Support Specialist program.
“Max would tell me things that he learned … and you could see that he took great pride in his education at WCTC. I also saw a degree get handed to Max one year out of high school, which then motivated me to follow in his footsteps,” Mark said.
Mark’s time in the DEA so far has been a positive one. He is excelling in his classes, meeting new people and learning from instructors who bring real-world examples into the classroom. He plans to continue along the IT path and complete his associate degree next year.
Max and Mark’s mother, Laurie Czechowski, said both her sons have benefited from dual enrollment. It has provided them a head start in college, given them a feel for what college involves and introduced them to other like-minded students. Plus, she said, it’s a significant savings in tuition and books.
“WCTC is really a hidden gem in our community, and the education both Max and Mark have received is invaluable,” Laurie said. “My husband, George, and I are truly grateful that both Max and Mark were chosen for the Dual Enrollment Academy and have been able to benefitfrom such a fabulous program.”