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NDSCS partners with WF school

West Fargo High School students will get a jump start on college through a new partnership with the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton.

West Fargo High School students will get a jump start on college through a new partnership with the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton.

The two schools are developing an Early College Program that would allow students to complete a high school education and a two-year college degree in five years.

The program, approved Monday night by the West Fargo School Board, will take effect next fall.

Students who participate will complete one year of college by the time they graduate high school.

West Fargo Assistant Principal Cory Steiner said the program will be enticing to students because they can save money on a year's worth of tuition and living expenses.

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"It becomes a substantial amount that you will save," Steiner said.

The program also will improve high school graduation rates and better prepare students for college, Steiner said.

"Kids will rise to the expectations we have for them," he said.

West Fargo High School currently offers four dual credit courses in cooperation with NDSCS, which means students taking those classes earn high school and college credit at the same time.

About 75 students take those classes this year, Steiner said.

The Early College Program would expand that option for students and give them a more structured curriculum track.

Students who are juniors and seniors could earn credit toward a liberal arts or general studies associate's degree or a computer information systems degree.

Margaret Wall, NDSCS dean of extended learning, said additional degree programs may be added in the future.

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Many classes will be offered in West Fargo taught by high school teachers who have the same credentials as NDSCS faculty, Wall said.

Those classes will cost students $45 a credit and textbooks will be provided.

Other classes will be offered online, via interactive television or on the NDSCS campus. West Fargo students will pay the full tuition amount for those classes and be responsible for buying textbooks.

Bill Goetz, chancellor of the North Dakota University System, said dual credit programs have been offered around the state and have been popular with high school students. This is the first Early College Program in the state, he said.

Goetz said he expects the program will get students thinking about college earlier and reduce remediation when they get to college.

NDSCS has dual credit partnerships with 33 high schools in southeast North Dakota, and officials are in talks to bring the Early College Program to other schools, Wall said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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