Onalaska Senior Jacob Bakken attends a web programming class at Western Technical College as part of Western’s IT Academy.

When Onalaska senior Jacob Bakken was selecting classes for his final year of high school, there was an email that caught his eye.

“It was about (Western Technical College’s) high school IT Academy and asking if I was interested,” said Bakken. “I thought about how much it would benefit me to learn how to create and develop projects on the web.”

This term, Bakken is enrolled in a web programming class at Western’s La Crosse campus. The course covers basic web design code, including HTML, CSS, and Javascript, something he wasn’t sure he could do at first.

“Before I took the class I had no idea what programming was about,” said Bakken. “But the course is set up for beginners and it’s easy to understand.”

Bakken is taking advantage of one of the many dual credit options available at Western, which can be offered at the college, at the high school, or through online programs. The IT Academy is a two-year program where students earn high school credit in addition to 12 college credits in the computer support specialist, computer support technician, and web and software developer programs.

“This is really about saving students time and money,” said Tyler Ludeking, K-12 relations specialist at Western. “There are many opportunities, many of which they don’t know about, for high school students to get ahead.”

“At Western, my classmates and I are much more engaged in the class,” said Bakken. “I believe it’s because we are interested in the topic, and we have the freedom to accomplish our tasks in our own way.”

Last year, Western awarded over 1,600 students with college credit. In total, 25 local schools in Western’s district are participating in dual credit programs, which allows the student to earn credit at Western for free.

“We are currently seeing a trend where more and more students are thinking about college a lot earlier,” said Ludeking. “These classes are helping our high school students be better prepared for college, either through the credit earned, or the experience itself.”

Every Monday through Thursday, Bakken attends his web programing class at 7:30 a.m. at Western. He says the experience has been beneficial, not only for the class, but for the experience itself.

“I knew I wanted to go into a business program at Western once I graduated high school,” said Bakken. “I knew the class would help familiarize me with Western’s campus and how the school operates.”

Not only is Bakken earning credit, he’s learning valuable experience, all before earning his high school diploma.

“It’s been great to be able to have a college experience while still in high school,” said Bakken. “I feel better prepared on what to expect when I am out of high school.”

To learn more about dual credit options, head to https://www.westerntc.edu/earn-college-credit-high-school.

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