Butler Community College is in its third year offering classes in the Hill Building on the Marion High School campus.
Amy Kjellin, the Flint Hills site director, said, “We had a record number of students who graduated with more than 21 credit hours earned from Marion High School, and 15 students graduated from high school with enough credits to be classified as sophomores in college.
“It is important to note that these students are still eligible for all freshman-level scholarships as first-time-full-time students after high school,” she added.
The 28 MHS seniors who took classes in the Class of 2017, earned 688 credit hours in the dual credit program at MHS, she said.
“It would be very reasonable to estimate a savings of more than $160,000 in tuition and fees for these credit hours if they have been taken at a four-year university,” she said.
At the other partner high schools, BCC-Marion had at least 45 percent of the seniors taking college classes.
The Hill Building provides positive connection with the USD 408 school district, and BCC staff are able to do some small advertising on the digital display, Kjellin said.
“We’ve had great support for expanding some online enrollments for seniors who need to fill elective hours,” she said. “Our concurrent instructors at MHS do an excellent job of teaching the college level courses as part of their high school teaching load.”
Kjellin identified highlights from BCC’s dual credit programming:
◼ Butler continues to offer the General Education Tuition Waiver for high school students for a list of 12 courses. Students pay fees only for those classes, and the courses that are part of the state initiative, Excel in Career Technical Education.
This initiative was launched by former Gov. Sam Brownback in 2012 to enhance career technical education in Kansas and better prepare high school students for college and careers.
SB 155 was the enacting legislation, and beginning with the 2012-13 school year, Kansas high school students qualified for state-funded college tuition in approved technical courses.offered by Kansas technical and community colleges.
◼ Students in this region can earn up to 11 credit hours of mathematics for college credit in Algebra, Statistics and Calculus.
◼ Butler will soon offer, in collaboration with USD 398 (Peabody-Burns), a new Early College Academy that will be a huge benefit for all students in the county. The goal is to open an Automotive Technology Early College Academy in fall 2018.
Kjellin said the program would incorporate beginning-level college auto tech courses and the general education and business classes that are part of the Applied Associates degree.
“After high school, students would have a path to complete the AAS in one semester at Butler in El Dorado,” she said. “Butler is very excited to bring this training opportunity to Marion County.”
In addition to some new classes, Kjellin introduced a new part-time academic advisor in Marion.
“Tammy Bergeron comes to us with a wealth of experience in job placement and career coaching, as well as other case management training in mental health,” Kjellin said.
“This is exciting to try to help non-traditional students be successful in pursuing educational opportunities and building strong connections with the local high school students as well.”
BCC also is wanting to expand its offerings.
“We hope to expand in CNA training by integrating blended training with our traditional classroom environment,” Kjellin said.
“This could be especially helpful for high school students who could do their course work online and then have hands-on lab sessions scheduled around the activities calendar of the high school.
“We have already done some collaborative blended instruction for six CMA students from MHS,” she added.
When Kjellin said she talks about “Gen Ed” courses, it refers to the core classes that are shared among most baccalaureate degree tracks.
“So, regardless of what type of degree you are getting, these are the courses you will need to get your bachelor’s degree.”
Community colleges have both transfer degrees and applied degrees.
“We do have several students who take CTE courses in the area of computer programming, cyber security, and Allied Health/pre-nursing,” she said. “In fact, last year we had a student do almost half of the cyber security program online while he was in high school.”
By offering CNA training and the Auto Tech Early College Academy, as well as the online CTE courses, BCC-Marion is helping students obtain industry recognized credentials that can help with their preparation for employment after high school.
“It also meets the accreditation expectations from the state of Kansas for post-secondary training and education as a benchmark for student success,” Kjellin said.
“One other piece that is exciting is the amount of scholarship money we have had access to, thanks to an anonymous donor who provides funds to help high school students and CNA students,” Kjellin said.
“Even with the affordable rates we have, we know there are families that struggle to afford college. This scholarship allows us to cover the cost of the fees for students who qualify.”
Setting up a foundation scholarship is a way for people to have a positive impact on the educational future of a high school student, she said.
In fall, Kjellin said BCC awarded more than $6,000 in scholarship money to high school students throughout Marion County.
“This scholarship is one of the only scholarships available to high school students anywhere,” she added.
Kjellin expressed her appreciation for the support and assistance provided by Tod Gordon and Mark Felvus in the dual credit programming at MHS.
“They both have been instrumental in opening these increased opportunities for students at MHS and they will be missed.”
Among the challenges, BCC would like to make sure the staff is providing adequate opportunities for students throughout the county.
“We also want to increase the ability to meet the needs of the non-traditional student for training and credit classes,” Kjellin said. “In the future I anticipate staffing these dual credit courses to become more of an issue.
“We are always looking for qualified college-level instructors who can teach in the high schools,” she added.
Anyone with the credentials needed to teach college-level curriculum should contact Kjellin to be part of a dual credit program for Marion County.
Did you know?
A few other facts, Kjellin is discussed included:
◼ That about 30 percent of participants complete a college-level certificate/degree in high school;
◼ Nearly two thirds of Excel in CTE students enroll in college and go on to earn more credits/degrees than traditional CTE students;
◼ Excel in CTE credits lead to higher employment and higher wages of approximately $3,500 per year;
◼ Excel in CTE gives high school students a “head start” on college;
◼ Excel in CTE provides talent for Kansas businesses.