April 20 (UPI) -- A student in Wisconsin took advantage of a special program to graduate from high school and college at the same time.
Austin Klum, 18, is set to receive an associates degree in IT Software and Development from Western Technical College in La Crosse LI, while also earning a diploma from Westby high school.
Klum worked about 12 hours a day completing his high school education, while also taking college classes where he was often the youngest person in the room.
"I just go throughout the semester, and don't say anything until they're like, 'How old are you?' And I'm like, 'I'm 18 and in high school,' and they're all surprised!" Klum said.
He told WKBT he eventually came up with a way to fit in with his older classmates on his way to completing his degree through a combination of Course and Youth Options through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
"I thought everyone was older, and everyone knew what they were doing, so I grew a beard so they couldn't tell," he said.
Deb Hether, Western's director of recruitment and K-12 relations, said the programs allow students like Klum to take college courses partially funded by their high school.
"They allow students to get a head start, take college credit, get a head start on their future while in high school, and a lot of times it helps to apply credit towards their graduation requirements as well," she said.
Klum said in addition to his early graduation, the college programs helped him complete his education while saving money for the future.
"I didn't have to take any loans or use up my savings," he said.
When his two graduations are through Klum will work a full-time job over the Summer before participating in the Computer Science program at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse next year, where he may also attempt the master's program.