Waterford, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) - ​In 2019, 54,000 Wisconsin students earned some form of a college credit, while still in high school. For many Wisconsin teenagers, it's possible to earn as much as an Associate's Degree before even attending college.  

Under 'dual credit,' high school students can earn not only credit towards a high school diploma, but towards a technical college degree.

"Going into Freshman year, I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school," says Waterford High School senior Ethan Moser.  

Ethan has taken all six dual credit engineering classes at Waterford.  Because of this, he now can skip an entire engineering class at UW-Platteville, where he just got accepted.

"I really liked solving problems in these classes, so it helped push me towards the career I wanted to do after high school," Ethan says.  "After taking the civil and architectural engineering classes, I realized this was my passion."

Ethan is utilizing what's called transcripted credits, under the same dual credit umbrella.  In order to accrue dual credit, high schools partner with local technical colleges, which is where those credits go.  

If a student, such as Ethan, wants to attend a different university, he or she can request a transcript for those credits to transfer to another college.

Gateway Technical College partners with high schools in Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth counties.  Waterford High Schools is one of them.

"They’re right here at their high school with their high school teacher and they’re able to save themselves time and money," says Gateway Technical College's Katie Graf.  "I’ve seen high school kids graduate with 9, 12, 30 credits depending on if they can take advantage of all the opportunities."

A variety of dual credit classes are offered.

"Here at Waterford, we have classes in automotive, engineering, marketing, business, IT, culinary, and we're looking into early childhood," says Katie.

Katie says in 2019, dual credit saved students more than $3 million in tuition.  That was for 7,000 new student enrollments at Gateway Tech.

The number of Wisconsin students participating in dual credit is growing.  According to Wisconsin Technical College System, it has grown 69% over the past five years.  

More than 51,000 high school students saved about $29 million ​in tuition last year. 

Katie Graf says transcripted credits are at no cost to the student, parents, or school district.  All 16 Wisconsin technical colleges take part in offering dual credit options.