WYE MILLS -- Natasha Panduwawala and Devon Tyler are two of the hundreds of Mid-Shore high school students taking college courses this year through Chesapeake College’s Dual Enrollment program.
Panduwawala, a junior, has already earned nine transferable college credits through dual enrollment classes taught at Easton High School. She enjoys the subjects and academic challenge presented by a college curriculum and plans to take additional courses this spring.
“It’s great to be able to have this college experience in high school and study topics like psychology,” she said.
Tyler, a senior at North Dorchester High School, is taking College Algebra, Introduction to Business and Introduction to Music classes on weekdays at Chesapeake’s Cambridge Center. By graduation, he hopes to transfer 18 credits to the college he’ll be attending.
“This will definitely help me when I go to college,” he said. “I will know what the schedule is like, and I will have experience managing my time. I also like having time in between my classes at the Cambridge Center. I have a 10am and a 1pm class, so I stay there to study and do my homework.”
Spring Semester registration for Chesapeake College dual enrollment courses begins this month. Typically, students take the classes during their junior and senior years and must be at least 16 years old.
For the current Fall Semester, 336 Mid Shore high school students are taking dual enrollment classes and registration is up 56 percent, a record for the college.
The highest increase is in Dorchester County (+182%) from students attending three area high schools: Cambridge-South Dorchester, North Dorchester and Open Bible Academy.
Large increases in dual enrollment have also been seen among high school students in Caroline (+27%), Kent (+57%), Queen Anne’s (+68%) and Talbot (+32%) counties.
The jump is attributed to the strong relationships formed between the college and area schools.
“We are excited by the results because we’ve worked very hard as an institution to renew and strengthen partnerships with our high schools,” said David Harper, Chesapeake College Dean for Faculty and Teaching.
Students with a 3.0 grade point average or above and at least a C in Algebra II can take core college courses in English and math. Dual enrollment classes in communications, history, psychology and other subjects require a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Dual enrollment is great deal, according to Harper.
A three-credit dual enrollment course at Chesapeake College costs $405 compared to $900 to $1,000 for a similar course at a public institution in Maryland.
Students who earn George B. Todd and Roberta B. Holt enrollment grants can lower their course fees even more. Income-eligible students can also apply for Maryland PT grants and those in the Free and Reduced Meals program (FARM) will have 100 percent of tuition covered for their first four classes.
“Many students don’t realize that they can take dual enrollment classes inexpensively and are guaranteed to transfer those credits to all state public institutions, including the University of Maryland College Park and Salisbury University,” Harper said. “With careful planning, seniors can graduate having earned a diploma and completed their first semester of college.”
Recent graduates have also transferred to private institutions including McDaniel College in Westminster, Boston College and Delaware Valley University.
“The savings are a plus,” Panduwawala said, “and I’m sure that will mean a lot when we’re looking at tuition bills in the future.”
Information and grant applications for Dual Enrollment are available at www.Chesapeake.edu/dualenrollment. Application can also be made through high school guidance counselors.
Informational meetings are being held at area high schools throughout the month as well as on-site testing and registration sessions.