Triton High School College Opportunities


Each issue of this school year’s Triton Times, I usually highlight Triton High School’s concurrent course offerings available to our students. But this month, I would instead like to focus on three senior gentlemen who earned college credit by taking part in the PSEO program (postsecondary enrollment options). Similar to concurrent courses, high school students who take PSEO courses earn both high school and college credit. But students must attend class at the college (or online) in order to earn the credit, instead of just coming to Triton to take concurrent courses. Vinny Beauchamp, Alex Naze and Tristan Nelson are the first Triton students to complete the RCTC Welding Technology Certificate in the fall semester of their senior year and now go on to finish their high school classes and earn their high school diploma at graduation this spring. These three attended RCTC full-time in the fall and completed six college classes: Blueprint Reading, Process Theory and Safety; Shielded Metal Arc Welding; Oxy-fuel Welding, Cutting and Braze Welding; Gas Metal Arc Welding; Gas Tungsten Arc Welding; and a Welding Internship. They earned a total of sixteen college credits and completed the Welding Technology Certificate program—all at no cost to them.

I was able to get them to share a little bit about their experience with me. When I asked them why they decided to do the PSEO welding certificate program at RCTC they all immediately said “Because it was free.” They also enjoyed the increased amount of freedom in their fall semester with having Fridays off and only needing to report to RCTC and worry about their college classes. They enjoyed these classes because they were so hands-on and of direct interest to them. All of these classes transferred to the high school as elective credits, which meant they got to make great use of their electives required for graduation. Tristan also added that Paul Titus, the RCTC welding instructor, is awesome. They all agreed that they appreciated his teaching style where he made it clear it was on them to get their work done, but he would be there to help when they needed it. Alternatively, they admitted the most challenging part of the program was needing to drive to Rochester four days a week to complete the courses and along with that, having the gas money and reliable vehicle to make that happen. In fact, when I asked them what they would tell other students who are thinking about doing this program, they focused on transportation, suggesting that it’s helpful to carpool and make sure at least one person has a car with decent gas mileage. Vinny very definitively said, “Do it. It’s free, it’s fun and you get a certification.” Tristan added, “There is no negative.” Alex pointed out, “Besides the gas money.” Clearly, they’ve also learned about making wise decisions with their money!

I approached these three last spring about doing this program and while they were interested, they were also hesitant because I was talking to them about going to college full-time and that was not the path they had planned. I asked them after completing this program, “Did you ever think you would have a college certificate before your high school diploma?” The unanimous, emphatic answer, “No.” “I didn’t think I’d even be in a college,” added Vinny. Even though they weren’t planning to attend college, they all recognized that having the welding certificate allows them to go straight into the workforce and easily get a job with their certification. They mentioned having more and better career options as another helpful “side effect” of this program. College-credited opportunities can truly be for all students, no matter what path they are planning after high school. I hope that all students consider all options available to them, no matter their intended career path after high school. ALL high school students have the ability to earn college credits and credentials that will always stick with them, for free! If I haven’t convinced you, take it from Vinny and Alex who ended with, “Take the opportunity. You won’t regret doing it.”