Good news for students and families

The following column appeared in the Morrison County Record, Little Falls, Minnesota, in April, 2020.  Similar versions of the column appeared in several other APG of East Central Minnesota newspapers.

Good news for students and families

Today we’ll talk about widely unknown ways for students and families to save thousands of dollars in college costs. Minnesota offers many options for high school students in grades 9 – 12, online and on college campuses. Since students must notify schools by May 30 about whether they want to participate in these programs, this is a great time for students and families to discuss these opportunities.

Let’s begin with the Finishing Trade Institute. This is a state-approved college in Little Canada created by businesses and unions. It focuses on well-paying jobs like welding, glazing (installing glass) and other related fields. Students also learn about workers’ rights.

In January, 2020, FTI began a new Postsecondary Enrollment Option for high school seniors. It has “no” admissions test. It’s open to any interested high school senior willing to attend regularly. Current students come from both traditional district and chartered public schools. John M. Burcaw, director of academic education, told me that several employers will be interviewing students who finish the program for paid apprenticeships beginning summer 2020.

The FTI PSEO program currently is admitting students for fall 2020. May 1 is the application deadline. More information is here .

The FTI PSEO program includes hands-on skills development and learning via virtual reality. VR involves putting on some goggles. Things appear very real, but aren’t! But VR allows you to build skills as you manipulate objects you see via the goggles. It’s amazing.

I hope other unions and businesses around the state will visit this program and create similar opportunities.

But students don’t have to wait for that to happen. More than 30 school districts around the state have joined with two-year Minnesota public state colleges to create Early/Middle College programs. These are PSEO programs for district high school juniors who are not in the top third of their high school class and seniors who are not in the top half. They feature hands-on, active learning, often but not always in “the trades.”

Among the districts that have approved Early/Middle College programs are Anoka-Hennepin, Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Elk River, Intermediate 287 (Brooklyn Center, Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Orono, Osseo, Richfield, Robbinsdale, St. Louis Park, Wayzata and Westonka), Intermediate District 917 (including Bloomington, Burnsville, Farmington and Lakeville, among others), Lakeville, Minneapolis, Osseo, Pine City, Richfield, Robbinsdale, St. Paul and Wayzata. These are PSEO programs with more support for students than traditional PSEO programs.

This is not a copy of the entire column.  The full column is available here