The superintendents of all three local school districts have signed an agreement with Grande Prairie Regional College, creating a new Dual Credit Program.

High school students will be able to attend certain classes at the college and also earn high school credits for the course, like they have for psychology the last five years.

Public School Division Superintendent Carol Ann MacDonald argues it’s an affordable way for students to get a head start on a post-secondary education.

“We as a school district will pay their tuition for the course and we get credits for the courses that they earn, so for somebody in high school to experiment to see, ‘is this where I want to go?’, that’s a pretty affordable way to go about it.”

As there’s a risk of losing money if the student drops out, they’ll have to place a deposit with the school.

Catholic Superintendent Karl Germann hopes to see more students stay in school and move on to post-secondary through the program.

He says 30 per cent of children struggle in school, and could benefit from different learning paths.

“We believe there’s a need to have more kids have post-secondary education, because Alberta doesn’t necessarily have a high percentage of kids in post-secondary. So this is certainly one of those ways to help both the 70 per cent and the 30 per cent of kids who kind of check out of school.”

Peace Wapiti School Division Superintendent Sheldon Rowe argues the medical terminology course is a great opportunity in particular, as it’s a prerequisite for medical studies at NAIT that students often take over the summer.

However, while it’s good news for students that live close to town, Rowe hopes to see more options for long distance students in the future.

“Offering it on campus will be okay for Peace Wapiti Academy students, but realistically some of our students just can’t access it  on some of those courses.”

Rowe points to a study done locally that found students more than 80 kilometres away from school, there’s a significant barrier to transitioning into post-secondary school, as there’s additional costs for room and board.