NORTH MANKATO, MN

Around 12 years ago, South Central College unveiled a fast–track program designed to adapt and support adult learners with their journey to college.

The Fast Track Program allows participants to attend college just like a regular student, except you can receive financial support and attend an 80–day introductory class designed to reacquaint you with a school environment.

"While they are in that class, they get connected to the workforce system and we find a program that will fund their tuition, books and provide support for them while they go through school such as gas vouchers or childcare help," explained Karen Wolters with the Mankato Area Public Schools.

South Central currently offers the Fast Track Program in careers with healthcare and manufacturing.

As the cost of post–secondary education continues to rise, taking advantage of tuition breaks can make all the difference between attending school or not.

"The financial support is really a piece that you want to jump on as a student," said Dean of Career and Tech Education Ron Fleischmann.  "You want to make sure you're getting support for your books and your tools."

The Fast Track Program provides every student enrolled with an extremely strong support system.

They can answer any questions about academic work, paperwork for the program or any other concerns.

"When I thought about college, I got really nervous because I didn't really know how to get into it," said Fast Track Student Alyssa Martinez.  "I wasn't sure how to enroll in classes. There was a lot of things going on in my mind so having Ron and having the whole fast track program helped me a lot by kind of giving me that push."

And if you've been out of school for a number of years, the 80–day refresher course can help in all sorts of areas.

"The Fast Track class itself gave me the ability to remember what it was like to be in class," added Fast Track Student Kevin Young. "When you work a 9 to 5 job for 20–years, you forget what it's like to be disciplined to do your homework and keep a time schedule."

If you would like to find out more information on the Fast Track Program, go to southcentral.edu/fast.

--KEYC News 12