For some high school students counting down the days until graduation, their future is clear: It may mean four years of college. Medical school. Marriage and a family.
But some students aren’t so sure. They may not want to sit in a classroom for the next four years. Or they may prefer working with their hands.
That’s why Grand County High School and Utah State University-Moab have teamed up to offer concurrent enrollment courses that align with the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program.
According to USU-Moab CTE Coordinator Stephanie Dahlstrom, GCHS and USU have offered a variety of concurrent enrollment classes in the past. These classes usually include general education courses that give students the chance to take college classes before they’ve even graduated.
“They can graduate from high school with their first year of classes already under their belt,” she said.
Last year, thanks to the help of a grant, the program was expanded to includes some less traditional options, including classes in engineering, construction, web design and automotive work. Dahlstrom said that the programs were designed largely based on conversations with area businesses.
“We did our research as well as formed an Industry Advisory Group who could address what workforce demand was in our county as well as what kind of skills they wanted to see more of in potential employees,” she said. “We’re hoping that these courses will appeal to students who might want more hands-on experiences and skills to be able to go right into the workforce after high school.”
Because the classes double as high school credits, Dahlstrom said they’re a much more economical option for students who are interested in pursuing careers in those fields. “The courses fit into a pathway that leads to a stackable certificate,” Dahlstrom said.
GCHS Automotive Instructor John Lindsay said that the classes are also a good way for students to prepare for college.
“The actual requirements (for the concurrent enrollment auto classes) are a lot more stringent than a regular high school auto shop because it’s a college course,” he said. “It’s not an easy task.”
Lindsay also pointed out that having the classes on their transcript can make it easier for students to get a job in that field of work.
“We offer classes in brakes, suspension and steering,” he said. “If you walk into a tire shop with those on your transcript, you’re a lot better off than the kid walking (in) off the street without any experience.”
Grand County High School CTE Director Jim Stocks said that the CTE concurrent enrollment pathway is a good option for students who are still trying to figure out what direction they want to take after high school.
“This gives them a chance to get out and get experiences in careers they might enjoy,” he said.
“It’s a good option for kids who don’t want to leave Moab,” Dahlstrom said. “The classes are designed to help kids stay here and get jobs.”
However, Dahlstrom said the courses teach skills that can translate anywhere.
While other USU concurrent enrollment courses require students to be juniors at GCHS, Stocks said that students can start the CTE concurrent enrollment pathway as early as their sophomore year. The program requires students to have a minimum GPA of 2.5 in order to enroll.
Dahlstrom said there is a one-time admission fee of $50. After that, credits cost $5 per credit hour, meaning that a 3-credit course costs $15 if taken through GCHS. Dahlstrom said that same class would cost almost $500 if taken after graduation.