VICTORIA — A new jump start grant is allowing some Victoria High School students to get a head start on college.
Partnering with North Central Kansas Technical College, VHS began offering the dual credit courses during the school day last year to help students earn credits toward postsecondary degrees.
Before that, Barton County Community College classes taught by BCCC instructors were offered via ITV before school and in the evening.
“We had kids arrive at 6:30 a.m. and stay till 10 p.m.,” to attend classes, VHS counselor Kori Braun said.
With the classes embedded in the traditional high school classes, the students “take it during the school day and have access to the instructor here on campus.”
For instance, composition I and II classes for college credit are embedded in the senior English class.
Students can choose whether or not they want to take it for college credit and pay the $327 fee.
Other college credit classes offered are college algebra, business math, statistics, psychology, sociology and public speaking.
VHS teachers are paid by NCKTC for teaching the college credit class. Since the postsecondary classes are the same as those on the NCKTC campus, the teachers work load isn’t increased substantially, Braun said.
Teachers use the same syllabus as the on-campus classes, and can contact the college instructor if needed.
VHS teachers must meet qualifications to teach the advanced classes, which usually means having a master’s degree.
Braun said that can be an incentive for teachers to get an advanced degree.
High school students enrolling in the classes don’t qualify for financial aid, and some who wanted to take the courses last year couldn’t afford the tuition. That’s when VHS staff began looking for ways to help students with the cost.
Braun said getting general education classes out of the way in high school allows students to enroll in what may be the more interesting courses focused on their major emphasis of study when they get to college. That can mean an increase in the retention rate and more graduating.
As college students some will qualify for large Pell grants, but they have to wait until they graduate from high school to apply. The grant gives them tuition assistance for an earlier start.
A total of 35 students are enrolled this semester in the dual credit classes. Nine of those are receiving a total of $3,400 in grants for partial or full tuition.
Braun said the grants are based strictly on need, and the information submitted is kept confidential. All of the students who applied are receiving some assistance.
“In a small school like ours, we (the staff) have in-depth knowledge of students, their families and home life,” she said.
The grants are funded by the Dane Hansen Foundation, Victoria Alumni Association and NCKTC.