FHS students get a jump start to college classes

By: 
Doreen Heintz
Reporter

This year approximately 75 students at Fergus High School are getting a head start on their college classes. A program called dual enrollment allows students to get college credit for classes they are currently taking in high school. 

“We are looking at the dual enrollment classes as an opportunity for parents to save money and help students get some of the basic college classes done before actually heading off to college,” said FHS Principal Jeff Elliott.

Advanced placement classes in subjects such as science, math, history, art and English have been available for students to take for several years at Fergus. In order for a student to be able to use one of these classes for college credit, the student in May had to take advance placement tests and get a certain grade for the class to count for college credit.

“Now a student can take an AP class and get college credit by passing the class,” said Elliott. “The cost for a high school student to take a three-credit college class in high school is about half of what it would cost on a college campus.”

In addition to the AP classes for the five core subjects, two students at Fergus are taking an online computer coding class through Montana Tech. If the two students pass the class and then attend Montana Tech following high school graduation, they would each get a $3,000 scholarship given by Montana Tech. 

Two other students are taking foreign language classes through the Montana digital academy. The digital academy is located at the Phyllis J. Washington Center at the University of Montana and offers students online classes. 

Currently, Fergus High teachers teach the AP classes at FHS. A teacher must be certified in the area they are teaching and also have a master’s degree in that area. FHS submits the syllabus for each class to the college. A college professor looks it over and can make some requests for changes or additions to the syllabus. 

“That way the college knows exactly what we are teaching in our AP classes,” said Elliott. “AP classes used to be only available for college credit from the University of Montana or Montana State University. Now any college in the university system of Montana accepts the dual enrollment classes.”

The FHS administration is allowing only junior and seniors in good standing to take the dual enrollment classes. 

“We don’t want the classes to be overwhelming for them,” added Elliott. “We don’t want our students to fail, but to set them up to succeed.”

Besides the classes currently being offered at FHS, Elliott is also looking at adding welding and government for dual enrollment. 

“Our goal is to have students able to leave high school at Fergus with at least 15 college credits under their belts,” Elliott said. 

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