(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Many Rio Grande Valley high schoolers are taking advantage of Texas State Technical College’s dual enrollment program this school year.
TSTC has active dual enrollment partnerships for the 2021-22 school year with Brownsville ISD, Harlingen CISD, La Feria ISD, Los Fresnos CISD, Lyford CISD, Mercedes ISD, Raymondville ISD, Rio Hondo ISD and San Benito CISD.
Students from 13 participating high schools have the opportunity to pursue pathways in Aircraft Powerplant Technician, Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Auto Collision (Repair), Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair (Suspension and Steering), Biomedical Equipment Technology, Building Construction, Business Management Technology (Software), Cybersecurity, Culinary Assistant, Digital Media Design, Education and Training, Medical Office Specialist, Precision Machining Technology, Structural Welding, and Wind Energy Technician.
At the statewide level, more than 800 high schoolers were expected to participate in dual enrollment with TSTC this fall.
“We’re excited about that because obviously with COVID we saw that enrollment drop last year,” said Amanda Posada, statewide executive director of dual enrollment at TSTC and interim provost at TSTC’s Harlingen campus. “It’s really good to see students taking advantage and us being able to come back strong.”
Statewide, TSTC, which has 10 campuses across Texas, has dual enrollment partnerships with over 70 school districts. That includes dual credit pathways and career and technical education training. Typically high schoolers start participating as juniors, taking one TSTC course per semester.
The recently passed House Bill 1525 increases funding to school districts when students are enrolled in a coherent sequence of CTE courses. Since TSTC already offers its technical courses to dual enrollment students in that format, the college is well positioned to assist districts — and expand high schoolers’ training achievements.
“Students may be in the perfect situation to graduate high school while also getting an occupational skills award,” Posada said. “The even better part about that is it sets them up for two exit points, really: One, come back to TSTC and continue your education to a higher level award, or two, you have basic fundamental skills to do an entry-level position in the workforce.”
Either way, it’s a win-win situation for students, particularly since TSTC works closely with partnering school districts to align college coursework to CTE curriculum.
“Dual enrollment can be offered in three modalities,” Posada said. “Students can take classes on a TSTC campus or online, or we can credential an offsite high school — credential their facility and their instructor if they meet the requirements.”
School districts that want to start offering dual enrollment — on TSTC’s campus or theirs — should write a letter of interest and submit it to the college.
“We have credentialing packages, so when a district says, I want to be credentialed for building construction or automotive, we’re ready to answer that call and see if they meet those eligibility requirements,” Posada said.
When high schoolers participate in dual enrollment at TSTC, they are getting more than high-quality, hands-on technical training.
“It makes students more aware of the college experience,” Posada said. “The dual enrollment recruitment reps that work directly one-on-one with the students also provide mentorship to make sure that students are college-ready. We try to educate them and give them orientation and things like that so they can understand they are a college student and what those expectations look like.”
Learn more about TSTC’s dual enrollment program at tstc.edu/admissions/dual-enrollment/.