By Heather Hower
Colorado Mountain College (CMC) and Eagle Schools have teamed up to offer a Dual Enrollment (DE) program that allows kids in high school to simultaneously take college or vocational courses – free of charge towards a postsecondary diploma or certificate. This means kids can graduate – from high school – with an associate’s degree from college.
The DE program at CMC started in 2002. More students than ever are taking advantage of the program, according to Debra Crawford, public information officer for CMC. In the 2014-15 school year, 408 students took 52 classes and earned 4,093 college credits. This year the numbers are even greater with 700 students taking 1700 classes and earning 5000 credit hours, according to Tammy Schiff, Eagle County Schools’ chief communications officer.
According to the Colorado Department of Higher Education and Colorado Department of Education, nearly 30 percent of Colorado’s juniors and seniors participated in a DE program during the 2014-15 school year – an increase of 15 percent over the previous year. “When you think about [those numbers], and the level of tuition saved – it’s in the millions of dollars,” says Deborah Crawford, public information officer for CMC, and it seems like more and more Eagle County high schoolers are figuring that out.
Battle Mountain High School senior Kimberley Gonzalez has already taken four DE classes this year, with plans to ramp it up even more next year. “I’m taking these classes to try to get my Associate’s of Art and save some money,” she says succinctly. “Many of my siblings and teachers recommended I take those classes, and I’m glad I did. It challenges me and at the same time I enjoy having a faster-paced class.
So, how does it work?
Students sign up for Dual Enrollment classes as juniors and seniors to start their journey for advanced college level classes. To enroll in Dual Enrollment classes students must earn qualifying scores on either the ACT or Acuplacer exam. There is an orientation for Dual Enrollment each fall for students who participate, so that they know the requirements and expectations. Students take a full load of high school credit classes, which can include a mix of both regular classes, advanced placement (AP) classes and/or Dual Enrollment classes.
Students are fulfilling high school requirements as they get the college credit. The professors follow a state curriculum for the general education classes, which guarantees the credits are able to transferred to any state school. General education classes are those that are commonly required of all degrees: English, math, speech, foreign language, computer science and psychology. In order for the student to receive college credit, they must earn a C or better. Classes are taught either at the CMC campus, via online learning – or right at one of the four public high schools
Beyond the obvious benefits of cost savings and higher learning, dual enrollment should tempt students who may not have thought of college at all or may be first-generation college attendees.
The full-length version of this article can be found in the Summer 2016 Parents Handbook.