East Troy High School senior Brady Orlowski began taking Gateway Technical College credits early in his high school career.
In fact, it was so early that he will earn an Accounting diploma this year – even before he graduates high school.
“Taking these credits will help me earn my college degree quicker than the traditional route. I even hope to be able to earn my associate degree before I graduate high school,” says Orlowski. “I was able to save time and some money too.”
Orlowski chose Accounting because he likes math and said the dual credit program gave him the opportunity to experience accounting as a career possibility.
“It was a new experience and pretty fun learning about a different career field – and being able to earn those credits for high school and transfer them to a college is nice,” said Orlowski. “I’m able to get some of those classes out of the way right now while I’m in high school.”
Orlowski, like thousands of other high-schoolers in the Gateway District, chose to take part in the college’s dual credit program, which allows students to take college credits at no cost when they’re in high school.
Gateway served the highest number of dual credit students in the state of Wisconsin, according to figures released by the Wisconsin Technical College System.
A total of 7,322 students from nearly 50 high schools in the Gateway Technical College District, which includes Walworth County, Racine County and Kenosha County, participated in Gateway’s dual credit program in the 2022-23 Academic Year, nearly an 800-student increase from 2021-22. Those students earned 34,424 college credits at Gateway and saved nearly $6 million in tuition costs.
“I think this shows that students are gaining an even greater awareness that this option is available to them,” said Katie Graf, Gateway director of High School Partnerships. “The impact it has on students is tremendous. They save time, money and are able to begin their college career before they graduate high school.”
Dual credit includes seven different ways in which students from participating high schools can earn high school and Gateway credit at the same time, free of charge to the student.
“Gateway has strategically invested in and expanded our dual credit offerings over the last decade. The investment has proven beneficial to the high school students and families that live in our district, as they save time and money while earning a college degree,” said Stacy Riley, Gateway executive vice president-Student Affairs.
“Additionally, given the economic growth in southeastern Wisconsin and the workforce needs here, our goal is that the continued strategic focus on expanding dual credit opportunities will have a long-lasting positive impact on students, families and our community.”
Graf points out that dual credit has an impact on families and the communities at large too, as it saves money and provides early access to an education. WTCS research has shown that, in general, high school students involved in career and technical education are more engaged, graduate at higher rates and typically go on to postsecondary education.
“Dual credit helps the community and is important to us as we fulfill our mission to provide life-changing educational opportunities for our students,” said Graf.
WTCS research also indicates that taking one career and technical education class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of students dropping out of high school. Many of these students go on to earn college degrees or other credentials that help them to enter their career and earn higher wages.