Concurrent Enrollment at PYC

By John Peterson, PYC Director of Education

When PYC Arts & Technology High School first began to use these words to inspire our students and describe our culture, they were directed primarily toward our young people. Over time, however, I’ve also turned to these words for inspiration, particularly in our effort to land a concurrent enrollment class at PYC.

This effort began in the fall of 2015 when Joe Nathan, the Director of the Center for School Change, and Jeremiah Ellis, Director of Outreach and Partnerships at Generation Next, approached PYC with a simple proposition: add a concurrent enrollment class and expand the college credit earning potential of our students. Little did we know then how much hard work this would take and how many obstacles we’d have to overcome.

Concurrent enrollment, also known as dual-credit, or College in the Schools, is a program through which students earn college and high school credit for taking the same class. For instance, at PYC, we offer Math for Liberal Arts. Our students earn three college credits and high school math credit when they successfully complete this course.

There are many benefits to this program. For example, the more college-level courses students can take while still in high school, the fewer classes they have to take, and pay for, in college. High schools are able to develop valuable partnerships with college educators and can offer students more and better course options. Financially, concurrent enrollment courses benefit high schools because per-pupil funding stays with the students, and thus with the schools. Colleges benefit by receiving fees, paid by schools, for the number of courses offered. It’s a win-win-win situation.

After a year-and-a-half search, we found a school to work with us: Riverland Community College in Austin, Minnesota. Riverland’s leadership team’s willingness to do something that no other college in the Twin Cities was willing to do, made all the difference.

Kelly McCalla
Riverland Community College

Kelly McCalla, Riverland’s Interim Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, led the way. He believes that Riverland has a moral obligation to expand its offerings to high schools, and particularly those schools that aren’t routinely able to offer students these types of opportunities.

Mr. McCalla said, “It’s so impressive working with people who problem-solve and care enough to try things that make sense and really help young people, even when it requires us to step outside of the usual box.” It’s this “outside the usual box” thinking that has given our students at PYC, an alternative program, the opportunity to earn college credit.

Once we’d found Riverland, math teachers Kevin Scharber and Stephen Ketter, along with Kiana Batteau, our College and Careers Readiness Coordinator, chose seventeen PYC students for dropped almost immediately due to the rigors of the course. Of the remaining twelve students, eleven of them earned college credit and they are now three credits closer to the ultimate finish line – a college degree.

In our second year of offering this concurrent enrollment math class we’ve faced a new set of challenges – some anticipated, some not. We don’t have all the answers right now, but we know we’ll find them. We always do. Concurrent enrollment is here to stay at PYC.

Questions and conversations about concurrent enrollment or anything we do at PYC are welcome. Contact John Peterson, 612-643-2025 or

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