pexels element digital 1370296

FastForward From High School to Career

Hindsight is 20/20 for many adults who may spend the first few years (or more) after high school hopping from major to major, or job to job, because they didn’t have a chance to explore what path was right for them earlier in life. But, thanks to adjustments to the FastForward program at Virginia’s Community Colleges, more high school students can earn workforce credentials and get hands-on experience – all before they earn their high school diploma.

Dual and Concurrent Enrollment

One way high school students can learn through their local community college is through something called dual or concurrent enrollment. Many students choose this plan to knock out general education credits as they prepare to enroll in a four-year degree program. However, as Ann Courtney, an academic advisor and dual enrollment coordinator at Mountain Gateway Community College, notes, there also are career and technical education pathways a student can hop on while they’re in high school.

“We have students who are completing their Nurse Aid Certificate,” said Courtney. “We have students who are getting started in culinary programs or welding. If [they’re] not completing a full certificate, they’re getting a big head start on what they could be doing at our college – while also walking out with certifications that can help them get a job.”

Take Jordan and Breanna, for instance. They’re still in high school but are also graduating with three healthcare credentials, which prepares them for entry-level healthcare work.

Saving Time, Saving Money

One of the big benefits of taking classes at your local community college is cost savings, but when you’re looking at FastForward, those costs are reduced further. For some dual-enrolled students, your costs may be $0, and you may be earning high school credits while also earning credits for college, reducing your time investment in your education.

“Whether you’re going into the workforce or not, you’ll be so much better prepared,” added Courtney. “And that, in a lot of ways, is incalculable. You’re a step ahead of everybody you’re working with.”

Coordinators like Ann Courtney are positioned at all 23 community colleges in Virginia to help you find the answers to all your career and education questions. If you’re interested in taking college courses at your local community college, use our Contact Form to reach out and find out what options are available where you are. Note, not every community college has FastForward programs that are eligible for high schoolers, but they can help point you down a path that works for you and your goals.