Town & Gown: Dual enrollment students stay the course
By Heather Greene, a graduate assistant in the Office of Public Relations

Jacksonville State University is discovering more reasons why high school students might want to consider dual enrollment classes to kick-start their college education and cut some of the financial cost of a college education. According to Dr. Alicia Simmons, director of JSU’s Institutional Research and Assessment department, information is showing “that students who attend at least one JSU dual enrollment class and then attend JSU are retained at a much higher rate (85 percent) than all JSU first-year freshmen (68 percent)...a 17 point difference. With dual enrollment costing half of JSU tuition, it seems to be a great investment for preparing high school students for college.”

So, what is dual enrollment and how does it work? Dual enrollment allows a high school student to take a 100 or 200 level college course with permission from their school superintendent and earn both high school and college credit for half the cost of college tuition. Dr. Joe Delap, director of the dual enrollment program at JSU, states that the program “provides high school students a preview of university life and the opportunity to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school. Students must have completed ninth grade with at least a B average and have permission from their schools.” Delap explained that the classes take place in the local high school and are instructed by a high school faculty member who would meet the qualifications to be a JSU adjunct. Like any other JSU student, a high school student seeking dual enrollment must complete a JSU admission application.

Alexandria, Anniston, Donoho, Jacksonville, Oxford, Pleasant Valley, Sacred Heart, Saks and Weaver are the nine high schools that participated with JSU in the dual enrollment program for the 2011-2012 school year. With more than 300 participants each year, Oxford High School has the largest number of dual enrollment students and offers quite a diversity of available classes, according to Dr. Delap.

Caitlin Turecek, a 2011 JSU graduate who took two dual enrollment courses during her years at Jacksonville High School says of her experience with the program, “I think it helped ease my anxiety about taking a college class… I would definitely recommend dual enrollment to high school students. It may seem daunting to add another class to an already-hectic schedule, but the rewards are worth the added work. The structure and atmosphere of college classes are different from high school classes (for the better, I think) and already having experience with it can definitely ease the transition from high school to college.” Turecek majored in English at JSU and is now in her first year of law school at the University of New Hampshire.

Delap feels that the success of the dual enrollment program “might be attributed to the fact that this program helps students connect early on with other students and professors and assists in making them feel comfortable in their transition between high school and college.”

The financial advantage of dual enrollment is that it allows students to complete college courses at half the cost. Also, students who have completed dual enrollment courses would still be eligible to apply for ACT/SAT based scholarships, if they meet the qualifications and restrictions for the scholarships and fill out the JSU scholarship application, according to JSU’s scholarship director, Martin Weldon. Weldon adds that the new scholarship application for the 2013-2014 school year will be available on JSU’s website on Oct. 1, and the deadline for application will be March 1, 2013.

It is important to keep in mind that although JSU dual enrollment courses will, of course, transfer to JSU, some universities, such as private colleges, might not accept the dual enrollment classes as college credit. The student’s future college plans should be taken into consideration when thinking about dual enrollment classes. However, by allowing a high school student a head start on her college education at half the normal cost of tuition, dual enrollment at Jacksonville State University is a program that local high school students and their parents might wish to consider.

For more information on dual enrollment, visit http://www.jsu.edu/academicaffairs/Accelerated.html
© 2012