Dillon Nelson is grateful for the dual enrollment program at Lanier Technical College.
Nelson, a current Lanier Tech student and former program participant, said the arrangement gave him “a head start.”
“I didn’t weld until I got into the program, and I found out how much I really enjoyed it,” Nelson said. “Now I want to keep going and see what happens career-wise.”
Nelson was one of several local students who attended last week’s ceremony recognizing the partnership the college has formed with the Dawson County school system.
The classes allow 11th- and 12th-graders to simultaneously “stack” credits toward their high school diplomas and college degrees.
Welding instructor Jeremy Ledford said the classes offer students “the opportunity to learn something they can take out into the real world right out of high school.”
Jeff Fitzpatrick, Lanier Tech’s high school coordinator, praised instructors like Ledford and other local leaders.
“[The Dawson County program] has a higher percentage of students who are in dual enrollment than anywhere else in the state,” Fitzpatrick said.
Lanier Tech President Russell Vandiver said Dawson County is well represented among the institution’s seven-county coverage area.
“I don’t know another one of those counties that comes close to what y’all are doing with dual enrollment in Dawson County,” he said.
Vandiver said dual enrollment is a valuable asset for today’s student.
“The end result is [a student] is going to end up with something that’s going to take them a long way in life,” Vandiver said.
Fitzpatrick said the dual enrollment program is similar to those found at other colleges across the state. The program is open to every student, though they must qualify before enrolling.
Lanier Tech also offers joint enrollment, a program where high school students only earn college credits, not high school credits as well.
Joint enrollment started about a decade ago. Rather than attend classes during the school day, students attend class after high school hours.
Elizabeth Burlingame of the DCN regional staff contributed to this report.