Kaylee Goodwin is enjoying her first college course. However, the busy 18-year-old isn’t your traditional first-year college student. She is a high school senior enrolled in University of Wisconsin-Marathon County English professor Holly Hassel’s English composition course being taught this fall at Edgar High School in Edgar, Wis., a community of 1,500 people 20 miles west of the UWMC campus.
Edgar High School seniors Kaylee Goodwin (left) and Emily Ross are taking a college-level English course at their school this fall through a partnership with UW-Marathon County.
“Everybody wants to be here and gives an equal effort,” said Goodwin, when describing her classmates and the benefits of taking the three-credit college course.
“Personally, it helps me prioritize (my time and responsibilities). I’m able to multi-task better now,” said Goodwin, who works part-time most evenings for Color Vision, a local printing company, and plays basketball and runs cross country and track for Edgar High School. She plans to enlist in the U.S. Air Force after high school.
Goodwin and 18 other seniors at the 219-student school are taking Hassel’s course through Wisconsin’s Youth Options Program. Created in 1991, Youth Options allows public high school juniors and seniors who meet certain requirements to take postsecondary courses at a UW institution, a Wisconsin technical college, one of the state's participating private nonprofit higher education institutions or tribally-controlled colleges. Approved courses count toward high school graduation and college credit.
Typically, students enrolled in Youth Options travel to a nearby university or college to take the class. However, because interest in Hassel’s class was so high, UWMC decided to bring English 101 to Edgar High School, making it more convenient for more students to attend. According to Hassel, UWMC’s new education-delivery model is having positive results for both her and her students.
Will Hannemann, a student at Edgar High School, discusses his composition paper with classmates Tyler Kirsch and Caden Untiedt (facing camera) and UWMC English professor Holly Hassel.
“I’m a big believer in access to education. This program complements that philosophy,” said Hassel. “Students at smaller, rural schools don’t always have access to college-level courses like students at larger, urban schools. That can be a disadvantage for them when it comes to competing for admission for college.”
Professionally, Hassel said it has been rewarding to work with the Edgar High students. “They are very motivated,” she explained. “They are bright, engaged and come to class prepared.”
They’ve also given her insights into high school life and a better understanding of the challenges and anxiety in-coming freshmen may bring with them when they arrive at UWMC each fall. “I’m learning more about high school culture and some of the academic and cultural expectations experienced by today’s high school seniors,” Hassel noted. “I now have a better understanding of the transition students face when they make the jump from high school to college.”
Other Edgar High students taking Hassel’s course give it high marks, too.
“I’m learning a lot. This class is preparing me for college,” said Emily Ross, who will attend the College of the Ozarks in Branson, Mo., next year. “It’s definitely a different structure than high school classes. You have to learn to manage your own time. Dr. Hassel also isn’t going to be jumping on you to get this assignment done. It’s up to you.”
“It’s preparing me for what college expects and giving me a sense of what a step up it will be,” said Will Hannemann, who plans to pursue a business management degree in college. “The change of pace is totally different than what we’re used to. It’s more challenging. The professor has very high expectations, and she pushes us.”
“It’s a great kick-start for college,” Erica Brusky said. “It shows what the work load will be and how to manage that work load.
UW-Marathon County professor Holly Hassel emphasizes a point with senior Sammi Bernke during an English course she is teaching this semester at Edgar High School.
“I like the professor, too,” said Brusky, who plans to major in English literature in college. “She actually cares whether we get it. Plus, she has a very positive attitude, making it easier for people to contribute to discussions.”
In addition to the students, Jordan Sinz, an administrator at Edgar High School, is pleased with how this new educational partnership with UWMC is going. “We are very fortunate to have Holly teaching this course at Edgar,” said Sinz, dean of students. “Our students are lucky to have such a fine option for their college education in Wausau. UWMC has been extremely positive to work with in this process.
“It is my hope that we can continue to foster a positive relationship with UWMC and look to keep these tremendous opportunities for our students,” Sinz stressed. “We want to produce students that are ready for the rigor of college. Courses offered through a college like UWMC is a step in that direction.”
The Youth Options program gives eligible high school juniors and seniors the option of enrolling in courses at UWMC.
Enrollment is limited to courses that are not offered at the student’s high school and are approved by the local school board for dual high school/college credit.
Tuition for these courses is paid by the local school board. The credits and grades earned become part of both the student’s high school and UWMC official records and are fully transferable to other colleges and universities.