COURT HOUSE - Not long ago, the only way high school students earned college credit for work done while in high school was through Advanced Placement (AP) tests. Now, a variety of programs provide opportunities for students to get a jump start on college.
Dual credit programs offer college credit for courses taken at a student’s high school. Links between high school courses and specific colleges provide college credit while the courses continue to meet high school graduation requirements.
In almost all cases, the credits are not free, but the tuition rate is significantly lower than it would be if the credits were gained at a college.
Concurrent enrollment programs are also available, where students enroll at a college while a high school student. Credits count both for college and high school, but generally in such programs, the college credit courses are taken at the post-secondary institution.
Atlantic Cape Community College has programs with each of Cape May County’s public high schools, offering various pathways to college credit. Four-year state institutions, like Stockton and Rowan universities, also offer programs for combined college and high school credit through the county’s high schools.
Cape May County Schools
All public high schools in Cape May County participate in dual credit arrangements.
Mackenzie Enteado, a sophomore at Ocean City High School, is taking advantage of the dual credit program with Atlantic Cape Community College through courses in Advanced Chemistry and Business Management. Enteado is also participating in a credit course offered through Stockton University, in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
Across the county, 82% of public high schools offer a form of dual enrollment with two and four-year colleges. Almost 1.5 million students participate in these programs, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Students at county high schools are making use of the opportunity to tap into college-level academics. Across the state, 13.3% of high school students participate in one or more dual enrollment courses, according to state school performance reports for the academic year 2017-2018.
Four of the five county public high schools boast participation rates at or above the state average.
Cape May County Technical High School reports 73.4% of its students are in at least one dual enrollment course.
The school does not make heavy use of AP courses, but leads county schools in the reported use of dual enrollment.
Lower Cape May Regional
Lower Cape Regional High School shows 67.5% of its students are in at least one dual enrollment course, and boasts 37% of students taking at least one AP class.
Ocean City High School
Ocean City High School leads the county in AP enrollments, with 52.5% of students recorded in the school performance report. Dual enrollment participation, like that of Enteado, accounts for 29.5% of students.
Middle Township High School
At Middle Township High School, 13.3% of students, the state average, participate in dual enrollment programs, and 19% are enrolled in at least one AP class.
Wildwood High School
Wildwood High School’s performance report shows no dual enrollments, but it does state that 19% of students are taking at least one AP class.
Why Participate in Dual Credit Courses?
The advantages of dual credit courses show up in numerous academic studies of academic persistence and degree attainment.
A recent study, by the Community College Research Center, at Columbia University, notes that students enrolled in dual credit courses in high school were more likely than their peers to attend college after high school, and more likely to attain a degree.
Nationally, 40% of students who enroll at a four-year institution seeking a bachelor’s degree have not attained one six years after first enrolling.
The National Student Clearing House reports that the average enrolled time for those who do earn a four-year degree at a public post-secondary institution is 5.2 years.
Early college, dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment pathways help improve the odds of success with post-secondary education.
By providing early exposure to college work, these types of programs give students an idea of the academic challenges waiting in college-level courses.
They also permit students to explore areas of academic interest that are not available in many high school curriculums.
Dual credit courses can also be of value to students applying to the most selective post-secondary institutions, in that they demonstrate a level of academic commitment and intellectual curiosity.
When combined with general high school performance and extracurricular involvement, the college courses in high school improve a student’s admission portfolio.
Enteado rows crew for Ocean City High School and has her sights set on a college crew program. She is demonstrating a willingness to tackle the most challenging courses in her high school as an added inducement for admission at highly selective schools.
For some, one of the most important contributions of dual enrollment courses is that they allow college credits to be gained at a lower cost with tuition rates for the courses often offered at a significant discount from the rate the same credits would require after high school graduation.
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