BOTETOURT – When a student thinks about obtaining college credit while in high school, they usually think of such courses as Advanced Placement English or chemistry.

That’s changing, though, and this year students in all classes at Botetourt Technical Education Center (B•TEC) can now earn college credits.

What this means is that students in classes from cosmetology to welding can end the year with dual enrollment credits from either Virginia Western or Dabney Lancaster Community Colleges. Additionally, students at B•TEC will receive weighted credit in these Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes and that would boost their grade point average (GPA).

The instructors at B•TEC are all certified to teach at the higher education level and have worked hard to make sure that what they teach is comparable to what community college students learn, according to Botetourt Public School officials.

Phillip Simmons, Building Trades teacher, said he thinks it’s a good idea.  “Whether a student goes to college now or not, they’ve got the credits.  Then if they decide to go, they’ve already got those credits in place.”

He also feels that employers would look more closely at a student who was motivated to get college credits while in high school.

The students are excited to graduate from high school with these college credits under their belts.  James River High School graduate Andrew Fields remarked that it “didn’t feel any different” in his Drafting/Auto CAD class.

Stephen Gray from Lord Botetourt High School took dual enrollment Drafting so “he could get more credit” as he heads to Virginia Western Community College in the fall. His goal is to receive his Architectural Engineering degree from a four-year institution.

David Wall, Auto Service Technology student from James River High School, will also begin Virginia Western Community College in the fall.  He will take General Studies as well as the Automotive Studies class there.  “It’s getting me ahead,” he explained.  He also said “it gives you an incentive to be more serious about the class.”

Another student, Marci Agee from Lord Botetourt High School, agreed that the class is no different than what she is used to in her Collision Repair Class. “It’s worth it; you pay your money and maintain your grade.” She is bound for Ferrum College in the fall and spoke to the fact that she felt real prepared that she already had her foot in the door for college.

Katey Hall, a junior volleyball player from Lord Botetourt High School has already earned her first college credit by taking the dual enrolled Drafting/CAD class. “I like it because you get your credits; it’s cheaper, it takes less time and it’s convenient,” she said.

B•TEC Principal Joe Harden spoke of a number of reasons that he is excited that B•TEC classes are now dual enrolled.  Students will be able to earn “college credits coming right out of the gate. They will go into college with at least elective credits. Our classes are a third cheaper and have exactly the same requirements and the same standard as, for instance, a Welding class at Dabney Lancaster, or a Drafting class at Virginia Western.”

He reported that the classes at B•TEC are just as rigorous as the ones taught at the community colleges.  He also saw the advantage of taking these classes in that between dual enrolled classes such as English and now CTE classes, a student could potentially begin college with enough credits to shorten their stay in college.

Harden also talked about these classes being a “resume builder” when it comes to meeting with potential employers.

Many students ended the year at B•TEC certified to go straight into the workforce.  Now, through partnering with Virginia Western and Dabney Lancaster Community Colleges, they will also be entering college in the fall with credits earned while in high school.

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