Dual enrollment contributes to college success

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By Susan Pohorski


What if there was a way to increase the probability that your child would enroll in college, make a smooth transition and graduate? Would you take advantage of it?

Researchers have found that students who take college-level courses while in high school enroll in college without delay, take more credits and get better grades in their first year. That success gives students the confidence and momentum to continue their education and complete their college programs.

A recent study by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers tracked more than 15,000 Wisconsin technical college students who enrolled in 2009-2010, including 7.4% who took transcripted credit, advanced standing or Youth Options courses in high school. The study looked at total attempted credits in the first year of college; whether students enrolled in college during the summer or fall after graduation; and their first term grade point averages.

The results published in the Community College Review stated: “Dual enrollment seems to promote uninterrupted high school-to-postsecondary pathways by reducing the likelihood of delayed college entry.” Researchers also mentioned dual enrollment students reported better GPAs during the first semester of college while attempting more credits than other students.

“Metaphorically, dual enrollment ignites the “fire” of a student’s interest in and pursuit of postsecondary education,” the article reported.

Dual enrollment provides students with exposure to college-level work and to different career choices. It prepares them academically for both two- and four-year colleges and provides early entry into the student’s chosen career pathway.

Students who take advanced standing courses receive the college credit when they enroll in a Wisconsin technical college program that aligns with the courses taken in high school. Under transcripted credit, students take various courses and have a transcript of college-level credits prior to entering college. Youth Options allows high school students to take college courses at their local technical college.

Katelyn’s story
Katelyn Schiltz knew she wanted to be a graphic designer in high school. She enrolled in Youth Options and worked hard in her first three years of high school, allowing her to take general education classes required for an associate degree. Katelyn attended high school classes in the morning and college classes at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) in the afternoon and evening.

“By getting many of these taken care of early on, I was able to focus more on the program specific courses later on,” Katelyn said.

She completed 16 credits and got a taste of the program and of the college and liked both. After graduating from high school in 2013, she enrolled at NWTC full-time.

“It invested me in continuing my education here as opposed to going somewhere else to finish it. I completed the Design & Graphic Technology Program at NWTC in May of 2015.”

Tyler’s story
Tyler Mathes had taken some shop classes at Ripon High School. One day his counselor asked if he would be interested in joining Manufacturing Career Pathway/Project Grill, a partnership between business and education that allows high school students to work together and learn design and fabrication skills.

Through Project Grill, Tyler earned 8 college credits in Solidworks 3D Design, Manufacturing Processes, and Intro to Welding Part B.

“From day one of this project, Tyler took a leadership role with his Project Grill team,” said Jennifer Wagner, Career Pathway Coordinator for Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC). Throughout the year, he worked with his business partner, Sadoff Iron & Metal, to meet deadlines and build a grill that represented the company.

“I was excited about the program because I was really hoping to learn some CNC machining. However, the little we did learn did not interest me as much as I thought it would. The welding classes we took really interested me,” Tyler said.

He will attend Moraine Park this spring through the Youth Options program, and upon high school graduation in June he will enroll in the Fabrication Technology associate degree program at MPTC in fall of 2016.

So, if you want your child to begin college well prepared, confident and knowing what to expect, encourage him or her to participate in dual credit courses while in high school. Your child will experience early success and have the momentum to carry him or her through to graduation.