Rising juniors at Proviso Township High School District 209 will have the opportunity to graduate with an associate degree from Triton College through a new dual degree program. 

The dual degree from Triton College allows high school students to also attend classes at Triton’s campus. This gives them the opportunity to graduate with both a high school degree and an associate degree in the arts or sciences.

According to Alexander Brandon, district coordinator of career and technical education, the program made sense because the college has been a trusted partner of the district for many years. 

“Throughout the years they have helped our students take dual-credit and dual-enrollment courses,” Brandon said. “Many of our students go to that college, many students feel at home at Triton College. The advisors have helped them and supported them along the way.” 

The program is free.

“It significantly reduces the cost of higher education,” said acting Supt. Bessie Karvelas said at last month’s board meeting. “Parents don’t have to pay for the first two years of tuition [for students] to go to college or university.”

Students who participate must:

  • be in good standing at D209
  • be on track to graduate
  • hold a GPA of at least 2.5
  • have at least a 90% attendance rate
  • have completed two years of high school math
  • submit two recommendations from teachers or school counselors
  • pass two Triton placement tests

Placement tests taken in person or remotely. 

“Their chances are so much better because they are transferring,” Karvelas said. “They are not going in as a freshman with an SAT score, they are not competing with the others. It is an absolutely win-win situation for these kids. They are going in as juniors at 18, 19 years old.”

Available courses are equivalent to junior-level ones, such as AP Biology/Principles of Biology, AP English Language and Composition/Rhetoric and Composition and Integrated Math 3/ IAI Math. 

A Triton College Advisor will be conducting bi-weekly check-ins with students, who will also have in-person and virtual tutoring available to them through the college. The director of early college from D209 also will be doing weekly check-ins. 

“Guidance is the most important component of this process because students need guidance as they change climate and culture and move into a new environment,” Brandon said. “We need to give them that support. They have the motivation, but we need to provide both academic and social emotional support.” 

Students will also be required to participate in a dual degree bootcamp class, worth three credits, which is designed to help students learn skills they will need to be successful in college. 

If a student fails, they will return to their assigned D209 high school. 

Brandon said during the presentation that each student would cost the district about  $4,000 to $6,000 each year to send to Triton for the program. According to Brandon, the district would like to start with 15 students but would consider more once applications are in and students are vetted. 

“We can send as many as we want. I’m afraid to put too many in until we get our feet wet,” Karvelas said. 

The program also gives student athletes an opportunity to play at a collegiate level if they make a team at Triton. 

“This has been around for the last five years,” Karvelas said, adding that other local high school districts have already been participants, including Riverside Brookfield High School. “I couldn’t believe we didn’t know about this.” 

“We want to promote post-secondary education and vocational education,” Brandon added. “We want students to know that they can enter early college, receive credentials and go beyond. Last but not least our goal is to ensure all of our students are not only college and career ready, but also workforce ready.” 

Applications for the program will be due by January 19, 2024, to the director of early college and career admissions/CTE coordinator.