(ABILENE, Texas) – Seventeen West Texas school districts are taking advantage of dual enrollment opportunities at Texas State Technical College.
A total of 119 students are on TSTC campuses during the day, learning from instructors in a variety of programs.
The most popular program is Welding Technology, with 63 students enrolled this semester.
Stephen Hope, TSTC’s welding instructor in Breckenridge, has a record 22 dual enrollment students enrolled this semester.
“This is great for our program,” he said. “The dual enrollment program gives students another foot in the door learning a trade while in high school. It also helps them because they will be two semesters away from earning a certificate and one step closer to a career.”
In Sweetwater, eight Colorado High School and four Sweetwater High School students are part of the Welding Technology dual enrollment program.
“It is good to have those high school students here with us working on a career,” said TSTC instructor Taylor Elston.
Shelby Bennett, a TSTC dual enrollment recruiting representative, has seen some new trends in dual enrollment participants.
“I have seen more females coming into programs like Aircraft Airframe Technology and Welding Technology,” she said. “I think this is fantastic because those types of programs have mostly male students in them. I love seeing more females learning these skills and showing their peers that girls can work in these fields as well.”
Bennett and other dual enrollment representatives have a goal to train students with the skills needed for high-paying jobs.
“Our goal in dual enrollment is to place high school students into programs that best fits their long-term goals so they can get a head start on the program while still in high school,” she said. “By doing this, they can spend less time and money as a traditional student after high school, (and) we are helping get those students out in high-paying jobs faster.”
Bennett has heard only positive reviews from school district officials about dual enrollment.
“I have had counselors in the past tell me what a great opportunity it is for their students to experience technical college courses while in high school and learn some college student responsibilities that they will have to do once they are traditional students,” she said. “This has helped students learn that it is OK and much more affordable to go to a technical school.”
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.