Students in Frenchtown are able to earn college credit before they graduate from high school through a new program through Missoula College.
Through the Bronc Fast Track program, 30 students will be able to earn a general studies certificate concurrently with their high school diploma starting next school year during their sophomore year.
“We are thrilled about the streamlined nature of this program, which is ultimately an accelerated path to a college degree that will save students time and money while helping to prepare them for the expectations and responsibilities of postsecondary education,” said Jake Haynes, principal of Frenchtown High School.
Thirty-nine students applied for 30 available slots for the first class. Frenchtown High School counselor Beth Terzo was excited to see how many students were interested in even applying, she said.
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“I was already planning on taking most of the classes required for the program, and if I can save time and money and get my first year of college out of the way it was like a win-win,” said Maya Skinner, a Frenchtown freshman who was recently admitted into the program.
Students will take a business and biology class their sophomore year to kick-start their dual credit pathway. More classes will be required during their junior and senior years, including a rigorous math course, college-level English, Montana ecosystems, public speaking and American history.
“I think the way we have it structured the sophomores are going to be successful,” Terzo said.
Students can earn between 30 and 37 college credits before they graduate.
“It’s a good opportunity to get a year ahead for college,” said Colter Zenner, who was also recently admitted to the program. “It’s going to help save money and help guide me into the right direction to the career I want to go into. For me, I want to be an architect or an engineer.”
Tuition for the Bronc Fast Track program ranges from $1,085 to $1,915. The first six credits are free, and all remaining credits are discounted by 50% with no Missoula College fees. There is financial aid available for students who qualify.
It’s estimated that students in the program could potentially save up to $15,000 by earning credits that they would normally pay for during their freshman year of college.
“I wanted to do it, but then when I told my parents they were excited that it would help pay for college early. They were definitely all for it,” said Quinn Hodge.
The dual credits for a general studies certificate through Missoula College meet the Montana University System core requirements and can also be transferred to other campuses outside of the University of Montana.
Terzo is optimistic that this new program will take some of the guesswork out of preparing and applying for college after high school.
“I feel like it’s going to help retention rates, I think those students who have built that relationship are definitely more likely to come back for that next year just because they’re already comfortable,” Terzo said.