Head Start on College and Careers

Programs give high school students access to local college courses and business internships

By Justin Scherzer, Current Staff

Senior Peyton Janto can often be seen wearing business clothing at school because after four class periods at West Bend West High School he rushes to his internship at West Bend Mutual Insurance.

Janto is among the numerous WBHS students whose daily schedules differ from the traditional school day. Upperclassmen have the option to enroll in programs called Youth Options, Course Options and Co-op Youth Apprenticeships. These allow students to accept internships with local businesses or register for classes and programs not offered at the high school by traveling to locations such as the University of Wisconsin-Washington County and Moraine Park Technical College.

These programs accommodate students pursuing a wide variety of future educations and careers. Classes at MPTC offer technical credits which can give students a head start toward an associate degree. UW-WC offers classes for students interesting in subjects not offered at the high school as well as credits that can be counted towards a degree at a college or university. The Youth Apprenticeships are often paid positions that give students high school credit as well as work experience.

West senior Andrew Haese’s schedule significantly differs from the usual as he takes classes at UW-WC nearly fulltime with only one traditional high school class. He takes four college classes a semester in order to obtain credits toward a bachelor’s degree in radio/TV/film at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

“Getting a year of college out of the way has been a blessing, and I would not have done this year any other way,” Haese said.

These programs contain a vast array of classes that range significantly in difficulty in order to offer opportunities to students of different skill levels. West senior Olivia McClain has taken two classes, Intro to Sociology and Environmental Ethics, through the Youth and Course Options program.

“The workload really depends on the class,” McClain said. “Intro to Sociology was one of the easiest classes I ever took, and Environmental Ethics is definitely the most difficult class I’ve taken.”

The students claim the transition into taking true college courses is challenging and definitely an adjustment. Most of the classes move through course material much quicker than even honors and Advanced Placement classes, and the majority of these classes tend to be held only two or three times a week. However, students say block scheduling also allows for more freedom and an interesting schedule.

“Unlike high school, I don’t have the same class every single day at the same time,” Haese said. “My week is, therefore, a little more interesting, and allows me to fit in my job during the day.”

West senior Andrew Haese takes classes at UW-WC nearly fulltime. Photo by Justin Scherzer, Current Staff.

Youth apprenticeships present different opportunities from these college courses as they are more focused on giving students hands-on work experience as well as a part-time job. The several students who have positions work at a variety of local businesses. Janto, for example, works at West Bend Mutual Insurance while West senior Emme Gregorius works at Alliance Services.

These internships allow students to leave school partway through the day and spend several hours completing a variety of duties for a business. Janto works in the Premium Audit Department and says his responsibilities usually entail working with a lot of spreadsheets, sending out audit assignments and redirecting undeliverable mail. However, jobs vary day to day.

“I have heard of other interns being more of ‘errand runners’ or just being able to do very basic jobs,” Janto said. “So I was impressed by the importance of the role I was given.”

One challenge that comes along with these programs is balancing the schedule with high school classes. Most Youth and Course Options classes have lengths that differ from the traditional 50 minutes and involve a moderate commute from the high school. Janto often wears business attire to school due to the tight schedule.

“The schedule can be the trickiest part because I am usually in a rush to get to work and to practice,” Janto said. “There is very little time between school, work and practice which means I am typically late by a few minutes which I have to coordinate with my bosses and coaches.”

Even though it can be a challenge, the students agree that their experiences with the program have been worthwhile and beneficial in giving them an early experience of college.

“I think it’s a really good taste of college,” McClain said.

“I think it’s a really good taste of college.”
– Olivia McClain, West senior

“My year at UW-WC has been incredible and a fantastic experience,” Haese said.

The students say they have learned that in order to succeed in this program it is important to be willing to get to know and work with students, professors and coworkers.  For both the college classes and apprenticeship programs, effective communication is vital to success.

“I highly recommend getting to know a few of your classmates right off the bat so you have someone to study with or help make up notes if you miss a day,” said East senior Alina Prahl. “You’re all in the same boat trying to pass the same class, so it’s good to be able to work together.”

Effective July 1, the Youth and Course Options program at UW-WC is being discontinued in favor of the Early College Credit Program. The only major differences are that the new program is open to a wider variety of students and offers summer classes.

“This new program will allow private high schools to be eligible to partake in this opportunity at institutions of higher education,” said UW-WC academic advisor Denise Lorge.

WBHS students interested in participating in these programs should speak with Lois Pellegrini at the Hub or discuss it with their counselor. There are opportunities available for all students seeking a class not offered at the high schools and are capable of driving to off campus locations.

(Top image: Alina Prahl is an East senior in the Youth and Course Options program. Photo by Justin Scherzer, Current Staff.)

West senior Julia McClain reads Aristotle for her Youth Options course. Photo courtesy of Olivia McClain.

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