SHERIDAN, WY— Five high school students will receive associate degrees from the Northern Wyoming Community College District next week, a record number. In recent years, the District, which includes Sheridan College, Gillette College and an outreach campus in Buffalo, has seen an uptick in the number of high school students taking advantage of dual and concurrent courses to try to reach this goal.
Tongue River High School student Morgan Warren, Buffalo High School student Marc Wodahl, Big Horn High School student Ellie Bard and Sheridan High School student Deana Saraiva will all graduate from Sheridan College on Saturday, May 11. Warren, Wodahl, and Saraiva are also the first students at their respective high schools to achieve this goal.
Terese Kuhbacher, a Campbell County High School student, finished her associate degree from Gillette College in December 2018 and will also participate in the Gillette College Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 10.
This academic year, NWCCD offered 128 different concurrent course options, which are courses taught at high schools by a college-certified teacher. High school students can also dual enroll in any college course as long as they meet the prerequisites, as well as earn credits through Advanced Placement courses.
“These students are combining dual enrollment credits, concurrent enrollment credits, and even some Advanced Placement credits to achieve this goal,” said Cody Ball, director of dual credit programs for the District. “It takes a lot of hard work and careful planning.”
At the start of the fall 2018 semester, there were 1,276 dual or concurrent students enrolled at Sheridan College, Gillette College and Sheridan College in Johnson County in Buffalo. Because these credits are offered at no cost to the student upon successful completion, Ball estimates that this represents an average of about $600 to $1,800 per year in college savings for these students and their families.
“Getting a head start on college credits allows students to avoid accumulating a lot of debt, especially if they eventually plan to pursue graduate and post-graduate degrees,” said Ball. “These partnerships ensure that students can complete college credits at no cost to them, so whether they earn an entire degree or a few credits, it’s a smart move to take advantage of these opportunities.”
Aside from saving money, the high percentage of high school students who graduate with at least one college credit reflects a positive partnership between NWCCD and the school districts within its service area. It also points to a strong commitment to student success at both the secondary and post-secondary level in Sheridan, Campbell and Johnson Counties.
“All of these students, whether they earned an entire degree or just a few credits, will enter college better equipped to be successful,” said Ball. “We are proud of their accomplishments and look forward to celebrating at Commencement.”