Northeast State seeks to expand dual enrollment offerings

In his recent State-of-the-State address, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam made note of high school dual enrollment as an important way to help students succeed in college and prepare for the workforce.

Dual enrollment allows high school students to earn college credit while still in high school. In fact, many students in the program complete large portions of their freshman course load while in high school. There is a 94 percent probability that those students will go on to college – much higher than the estimated 60 percent probability for students in regular courses.

Haslam is proposing that Tennessee offer one dual enrollment course to high school students at no cost with discounted courses available after that.

“This is truly a historic time for community colleges in Tennessee,” said Northeast State Community College President Dr. Janice Gilliam. “Never has it been easier for students to get a higher education degree or certificate that leads directly to a job in that field or transfer to a four-year university.”

To further boost student participation in the program, Northeast State is compiling a list of possible dual enrollment courses for local high school principals and career and technical educators to consider. The classes could be offered via interactive television, the Internet, or by conventional classroom methods.

Possible new course offerings include Engineering Graphics, Computer-Aided Design, Industrial Concepts, Safety in the Workplace, Principles of Accounting, Records Management, Principals of Business, Business Law, Marketing, Introduction to Computer Networking, Information Security Fundamentals, and Microcomputer Operating Systems.

Dual enrollment students who began courses at Northeast State last fall.
Dual enrollment students who began courses at Northeast State last fall.

Northeast State uses a Develop a Curriculum (DACUM) system that analyzes curriculum to define the duties, tasks, skills, and knowledge a new employee in technical fields needs to know to perform his/her job duties.

There are two main pathways for students at community colleges: 1.) The first two years of a four-year degree through the university parallel/college transfer associate degree programs and applied science degree programs; or 2.) Certificates and two-year terminal degrees in which students complete programs in a variety of majors and go directly to work.

Dual enrollment is not new at Northeast State. Since 1996, the College has offered courses focused on general education subjects such as English, Math, and Psychology. Since 2007, approximately 3000 students have taken general education courses offered through our dual enrollment program. Within the last year the College has sought to make dual enrollment more inclusive with offerings in Welding, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, and Quality and Inspection.

The College is currently working with Sullivan County and Elizabethton city administrators to develop a Machine Tool cohort at Sullivan East High School and to offer Computer Science courses at Elizabethton High School for fall 2014. Northeast State’s new A.A.S. Dual Enrollment Coordinator Chelsea Rose said she is “excited to collaborate with high schools to expand career and technical educational dual enrollment opportunities throughout the region.”

“We really try to work with the high schools to determine what courses they need,” said Gwen Widner, Dual Enrollment Coordinator at Northeast State. “That’s really contributed to growth and interest in the program.”

Widner said the College offered more than 50 sections last fall, with almost 600 students enrolled.

A recent Community College Research Center study noted career-focused dual enrollment programs aid high school graduation, provide a college GPA boost, and improve persistence to college graduation. Northeast State statistics show a 95 percent pass rate for dual enrollment students.

“Another success of Northeast State’s program is that many students are learning in their high school environment with small class sizes up to 25 students, which means a lot of one-on-one-attention,” said Shelby McKenzie, an administrator for the program.

Currently, students may apply for the Tennessee Dual Enrollment Grant. To offset tuition costs, students are eligible for up to $300 per semester for one course. Students may receive an additional $300 per semester if they have a 21 composite ACT score or a 3.0 high school GPA.

If eligibility requirements are met, students may receive $1,200 in grant money without it affecting their Tennessee HOPE Scholarship funds.

“We feel like the completed credit hours give students the incentive and confidence to continue on to college – that’s what we’re all about,” said Gary Lee, Director of the College’s High School Transitions Program. “The deans at Northeast State do an outstanding job of bringing in the right faculty and adjunct to teach college level courses at high schools, which lays the foundation for an environment that creates a very high success rate.”

For information about general education dual enrollment, contact Gwen Widner, coordinator, Dual Enrollment Programs, at jgwidner@NortheastState.edu, 423.354.2586/423.354.2505 or contact Shelby McKenzie at swmckenzie@NortheastState.edu, 423.354.5186. For information about career and technical education dual enrollment, contact Chelsea Rose, coordinator, High School Programs, at cdrose@northeaststate.edu, 423-354-5166.

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