GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- The average bachelor degree can cost about $40,000 in the US, according to College Board. Now, kids at Central High School can get an associate degree in much-needed fields for free, with their high school diploma.
It’s part of the P-Tech (Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools) program the state has. Students can get associates degrees in areas like engineering technology, machining and welding. They'll get it through Western Colorado Community College and can choose four, five or six-year programs.
For employers like Reynolds Polymer, this new program can help them find people they desperately need. They have about 10 open positions in fields taught in the P-Tech program, and more will open up as the company grows.
“It gives us candidates,” said Jessica Smith, V.P. of H.R. at Reynolds Polymer Technology. “It gives us people with the skills to do the job we need them to do."
Central was chosen by the state because the school has a large population of first-generation college students and English learners. It's one of seven high schools in the state to get the program. Students can apply now, and it will start next school year.
"I think it gives them a head start on college too, so you don't have to go into serious debt in college," said David Cardenas, a senior at Central High School.