Friday, March 13, 2020

CVTC Expands High School Associate Degree Program

Menomonie School District becomes the third to offer the opportunity


Menomonie, WI – Students in a third western Wisconsin school district will now have the opportunity to earn an associate degree when they graduate from high school. Chippewa Valley Technical College and the Menomonie School District announced the creation of a Business Management Associate Degree Academy to begin at the start of the new school year in the fall.

CVTC became the first technical college in the state to start a program enabling high school students to earn associate degrees with a Business Management Academy in the River Falls School District in 2017. A partnership with the Eau Claire School District followed last fall with the same academy being offered at its two high schools.

Menomonie became the third Wednesday, March 11, when it held an official signing day for the 27 students who enrolled.

“Over a hundred years ago, we created a three-level system, but 100 years ago, a lot of us were riding horses, and at CVTC we were training telegraph operators,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker The world has changed, and it’s time that education also changes. We realize that people don’t learn at three different levels. We realize that education and learning are lifelong ventures. This new approach really reflects that.”

The associate degree academies utilize a combination of existing CVTC college credit classes offered in the schools, and some new classes needed to complete the 61-credit associate degree. In addition to classes as part of their regular high school class schedule, the students also take some online and summer classes.

Students in the program do not have to pay the tuition and fees that regular CVTC students working toward the same degree pay. With the transferrable credits, graduates could finish a bachelor’s degree in as little as two additional years of college, saving them thousands of dollars.

“We have a comprehensive strategic plan that aligns very closely with our number one pillar, which is to produce college career and life ready graduates,” said Brian Seguin, assistant superintendent of Menomonie schools. “Not only will these students have experience in the classroom, they will develop a skill set that’s going to be transferrable to the next stage in their life, whether it’s a further education or going directly into the workforce.”

The academy fits right into the plans of Menomonie eighth-grader Emma Dean. “I know what I want to go into, being a financial advisor, and it has to do with business,” she said. “I thought this would be a cool opportunity to get a head start on a college program. After this program, I want to go to school again and get my bachelor’s degree.”

“Signing up for this was all Emma’s idea,” said her mother, Tanya Dean. “Emma is always up for a challenge and does better when she’s challenged.”

The program is challenging for students, who enroll in it while still in eighth grade with the realization that they will be expected to do college-level work as high school freshmen. But the representatives of CVTC and the Menomonie School District had plenty of encouraging words for them,

“We want you to leave here this morning with the sense that ‘yes, I can do this,’ ” said Kristel Tavare, director of PK-12 initiatives for CVTC. “We have cohorts of students at River Falls and Eau Claire high schools working on this same program. So, yes, you can do it. We’ve seen it done.”

“We'll be there every step of the way to help you along,” Barker said. “I know you are capable and we have great teachers and great support systems.”