Flexibility grows program, helps HS students earn college credit
WYE MILLS - Chesapeake College doesn’t have a Dual Enrollment strategy. The college has as many strategies - five - as it does counties in its service region.
“When we were rethinking Dual Enrollment three years ago, we realized we had to adjust our Dual Enrollment initiatives to meet the unique needs in each of our support counties,” said Dr. Richard Midcap, Chesapeake’s vice president for student success and enrollment services. “That’s one reason Dual Enrollment is growing throughout our service region.”
For Caroline County, where the public schools transport students daily to Wye Mills for the first round of classes, that strategy means ensuring there are sufficient 8:30 a.m. slots to meet those students’ needs. In Dorchester County, that philosophy means building the Chesapeake College Cambridge Center course schedule with Dorchester County high school students’ needs in mind.
While Queen Anne’s County high school students have relatively easy access to the Wye Mills Campus, the college places courses in the public schools in both Talbot and Kent counties to deal with their transportation issues.
“The opportunity to offer courses through Chesapeake College on TCPS campuses allows for this to happen for all students,” said Kelly Griffith, the superintendent of schools in Talbot County. “Our students are seeing the postsecondary experience as the expectation and not the exception.”
Dr. Karen Couch, superintendent of schools in Kent County, echoed Griffith’s statement.
“Kent County High School is 40 minutes away from the Chesapeake College campus,” noted Dr. Couch. “Therefore, the travel time and mode of transportation are very difficult issues for many of our students. The opportunity to offer courses on our campus allows more of our students to take advantage of the Dual Enrollment Program.”
Dual Enrollment students say the program has been a positive experience.
“It’s helping me to take on more responsibility, balance out my priorities and grow as a person,” said Destinae Short, a Cambridge-South Dorchester High senior who said she’s enjoyed working with the college’s faculty. Short, who came into this school year with 10 college credits, is taking six more this fall and plans to take six more in the spring.
North Caroline High senior Hannah Porter is also taking advantage of Dual Enrollment opportunities, having earned 12 college credits as a junior.
“I think Dual Enrollment was a good choice for me. I want to try to build up some college credits so I don’t have to go to college as long,” said Porter, who has a 4.0 college grade-point average.
Sarah Fauver, a junior at Easton High taking Dual Enrollment classes for the first time this fall, said both her Wellness for Life and General Psychology classes are helping prepare her not only for college but for life in general.
“Wellness for Life provides valuable information for future actions, such as dietary choices and daily fitness,” said Fauver, who is taking courses right at Easton High. “Psychology has many different aspects to it, but each aspect interests me in a different way.”
Justin Collier, a Queen Anne’s County High senior, is actually attending Chesapeake full-time this year after taking two courses - College Algebra and English Composition - last spring.
“I like all the different classes you can take and the flexibility of making your own schedule,” said Collier, who will likely have more than 30 college credits by the time he graduates from high school.
The college’s flexibility in meeting each county’s specific needs has helped Chesapeake increase its Dual Enrollment headcount by 59 percent - to 269 students - over the last two years. Every county has experienced growth over the past two years, led by Dorchester County’s 150 percent growth since Fall 2012.
Two Dual Enrollment scholarships managed by the Mid-Shore Community Foundation - the George B. Todd Scholarship in Dorchester County and the Roberta Holt Grant in Caroline County - have also helped the college grow Dual Enrollment, according to Chesapeake College President Dr. Barbara Viniar.
“Those scholarships have done so much to increase access to Dual Enrollment,” said Dr. Viniar, noting a combined 109 students are receiving scholarship aid this fall from those two scholarships. “We’re so grateful to be able to use these generous grants to create these opportunities.”
Dr. Viniar also noted the financial contributions of the school systems, which resulted from passage of the College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013. That law required public school systems to pay 10 percent of the tuition for the first four Dual Enrollment courses for each high school student and 100 percent of the tuition for the first four courses for each high school student eligible for Free and Reduced Meals (FARM).
“Our school systems have remained staunch advocates of Dual Enrollment even though there is now a significant financial burden for them,” noted Dr. Viniar. “All of our local school systems are wonderful partners.”
Dr. Midcap said one way the college has demonstrated its commitment to Dual Enrollment is by placing some of its most experienced faculty in the dedicated Dual Enrollment courses with some of its youngest students.
“Easton High is a great example,” said Dr. Midcap. “Dr. Edward Baker, who retired last May after 43 years on our faculty, began teaching Wellness for Life at Easton High last year. He enjoyed that experience so much that he’s back teaching at Easton again this fall.”
That type of commitment has obviously made a difference to students like Fauver.
“The two teachers for the courses I’m taking are wonderful because they are helpful, supportive, and educate their students,” said Fauver. “I’ve enjoyed both classes because I’m learning information that I have not been taught. I can’t forget to mention Dr. Baker’s stories, which are told in every class, that are bursting with fun, laughter, and educational value.”
Dr. Couch said the college’s commitment to Dual Enrollment has enabled Kent County High “to enhance current offerings with courses that we don’t teach on our campus, such as Statistics, Sociology and Communications.”
Dr. Couch indicated Dual Enrollment is a partnership involving the college, the high schools, and the students.
“Dual Enrollment is often a ‘game changer’ for many students who are uncertain about going to college,” said Dr. Couch. “Kent County High School provides extra help to students who may be struggling with a college course; thus we are able to provide a ‘safety net’ for students. Our guidance counselors also encourage students to seek tutoring or attend study sessions on the college campus as needed.”