FRENCHTOWN — Frenchtown High School and Missoula College are expanding their dual enrollment program and will soon be offering a college certificate to participating high school seniors.
The certificate will be granted when they graduate high school. Starting next fall, 30 Frenchtown High School sophomores will enroll in the new Bronc Fast Track program.
“We received 39 applications that Frenchtown will be going through,” said University of Montana Dual Enrollment Program director Jordan Patterson.
Frenchtown High School counselor Beth Terzo said they were expecting maybe 20 students to apply.
"Students are asking me every day, when will we know? So they're definitely excited about the opportunity." She continued, “there’s no program like this in Montana yet.”
The fast track is an extra addition to the dual enrollment program, where students can earn high school and college credit at the same time.
“It’s led to quite a few students discovering what they’re interested in, or finding something that they didn’t know was there. That always really pleases me,” Patterson said.
She said there was a bit of a delay getting the effort off the ground, "two years ago, right before the pandemic hit, like that spring, we started talking about the possibilities and what it would take.”
Now teachers are qualified and students are ready to start learning.
“To kickstart the program will be a biology class and a business class. Those will both be taught by teachers here on our campus,” said Terzo.
The first six credits are free, and following credits are at reduced tuition costs for available classes.
Patterson and Terzo said rural high school students can face barriers to continuing education, with Terzo saying she thinks this could help.
"They’re saving time, and they’re saving money. So we’re hoping that that will help open the door and make students who maybe wouldn’t have thought that college was accessible, letting them know that it is.”
Patterson also added that the majority of students in dual enrollment programs stay in Montana for college, and later to start their careers, "even though we're focusing on our high school students, we're also focusing on keeping more people here to work."