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Students opting to use high school for college

Most high school students have been warned: College can be expensive.

To save on costs and get a jump start on their degrees, students in the New York Mills and Perham-Dent school districts are opting to knock off a few college courses while in high school, without the collegiate expense.

It's become a trend so popular in area high schools that many teens are knocking semesters - even years - off their college careers.

There are a few ways students can go about benefiting from college coursework while in high school. They can either attend class on campus, a move referred to as post-secondary education opportunity (PSEO), or they can take college courses in their high school classrooms, taught by teachers with their master's degrees. Students can also take online courses, known as e campus through M State - Fergus Falls.

Either way, they're getting their high school credits with no strain on their pocket book, or loan balance.

Courses in NY Mills classrooms include college English, algebra, sociology, anatomy and public speaking. The school also introduced a few new courses, including world history and introduction to art. All courses are taken through M State.

NY Mills Counselor Jodi Raser said the school's goal is to offer college courses in all subjects, to cater to students' strengths. She estimates that a little less than half of the students in their junior and senior years take on college coursework in the high school setting.

Raser recalls a few students who have accepted their high school diploma with 30 college credits under their belts. Students who do accumulate that many credits also opt for online college courses, in addition to classes offered at the high school.

NY Mills offers the space and the time for students to take the online courses through M State, but are not part of the teaching process.

In the end, no matter how many credits students take on, they're saving a bundle.

"It's obviously a cost savings for the student and it provides a more challenging curriculum for students - and it gets students out of college sooner," she said.

Students who do take courses in high school must meet requirements, including grade point average and placement test exams.

Raser said courses are taken very seriously, just like they would be at college.

"College courses are definitely college courses, even though they're taught at the high school," she said. "There are deadlines and it is very serious. We follow the same guidelines as M State."