(RED OAK, Texas) – Red Oak High School students do not have far to go for dual enrollment classes. All they have to do is walk across a parking lot to Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus.
Dual enrollment enables high school students to take college-level courses as they work toward high school diplomas and earn college semester-credit hours.
Red Oak High School students are taking classes this year in the Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Automotive Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, Digital Media Design, Electrical Power and Controls, and Welding Technology programs. Classes are taught by TSTC-accredited teachers at Red Oak High School, at TSTC or online.
Lisa Menton, the Red Oak Independent School District’s career and technical education director, said dual enrollment offerings are decided upon using employment data from the Texas Workforce Commission, along with information forecasting high-demand careers in the future. Student interest can also factor into decisions.
Menton said the district’s goals for the future are to grow the number of students taking Electrical Power and Controls and Precision Machining Technology classes.
“We will offer more opportunities for our students as we begin to see if those can fit in pathways to meet career needs in our area,” Menton said. “That makes it easier and more convenient. Students can do the online learning and work it into their schedule.”
Besides Red Oak ISD, TSTC in North Texas is working with the Castleberry Independent School District, Texas Can Academies and two home schools to provide dual enrollment opportunities.
According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, more than 151,000 Texas high school students took dual enrollment classes in fall 2017. The percentage of Hispanic students taking dual enrollment classes grew from 38 percent in fall 2007 to 46 percent in fall 2017, according to the THECB.
Some of TSTC’s most popular dual enrollment programs statewide include Automotive Technology, Cybersecurity, Digital Media Design and Welding Technology. The classes can be taught by TSTC-accredited teachers at the students’ home campuses, or students can travel to a TSTC campus. High school students can also take some dual enrollment classes online.
“Our main goal with dual enrollment is matriculation, to expose them (the students) to TSTC earlier so they can pick a career they can go into and matriculate to one of our campuses,” said Kadie Svrcek, TSTC’s dual enrollment recruitment representative. “Students are able to have that freedom to have dual enrollment with us and continue on with us while online.”
Spring is the time when private schools, along with charter and public schools, can reach out to TSTC to inquire about dual enrollment opportunities in time for fall. The TSTC programs that schools are interested in for their students are vetted to ensure that there is no overlap with neighboring colleges.
“For us, it is all about exposure,” Svrcek said.
COVID-19 has impacted dual enrollment for students in the past year. But Svrcek is optimistic about the future.
“I think now everyone has gotten a grasp and handle on what their plans are, and they are more comfortable pivoting from an in-person setting to a 100 percent online or a hybrid setting,” Svrcek said. “Our school districts are coming around and being more active.”
As we close out Career and Technical Education Month, TSTC is proud to showcase the students, staff and faculty who support its mission of being the “most sophisticated technical institute in the country” every day. To learn more about the programs offered at TSTC, go to tstc.edu/programs.