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Dual Enrollment Update

posted Mar 7, 2016, 11:14 AM by Erik Arnold

Many of you may have heard about the dual enrollment program, but I am excited to tell you about a new piece to dual enrollment that we are currently seeking approval for from Middlesex Community College (MCC). First, let me give you a little background on the benefits of the dual enrollment program. Dual enrollment is a state supported early college program that allows high school students to take college level classes and earn both high school credit and college credit at Massachusetts state colleges, universities, and community colleges. Another key feature of dual enrollment is that financial support from the state reduces the cost for students to earn college credit. MCC, for example, charges high school graduates that want to take a class there about $558, but a high school student taking the same class through the dual enrollment program would only pay about $261. Partially because of the increasing price of college, we have seen an increasing number (in some years up to 20%) of our graduates who choose to start at a 2-year state community college. These students can clearly save money by participating in dual enrollment, but even larger savings are realized for the 30% of our students that attend 4-year state colleges and universities. When students earn a 2.0 GPA or higher in general education classes that are part of what is known as the Mass Transfer Block, the credits will “fully transfer to any Massachusetts public higher education institution” (http://www.mass.edu/masstransfer/students/transferblock.asp). The cost savings are incredible: the equivalent of one year of college (10 classes) through dual enrollment is $2,610 while the same classes at UMASS Amherst with room, board, and books will cost you $26,674. Students could easily save over $40,000 by earning two years of community college credits and then transferring those credits to a four-year state college or university. Private colleges may also accept the transfer credit, but the level of acceptance could vary from college to college so there is not the guaranteed benefit of the Mass Transfer Block.

We have had a few juniors and seniors take dual enrollment classes the past couple of years, but the new piece we are adding for next year should greatly increase the ability of our students to benefit from the dual enrollment program. One factor that deterred students from taking dual enrollment classes was that they would have to have transportation to either the Lowell or Bedford Middlesex Community College campuses. Another factor was that their school, athletic, extracurricular, or work schedules made it difficult for them to be available when the MCC class they wanted to take was available. The growth in online classes has helped to reduce these difficulties, but many students prefer the traditional classroom experience over online classes. Next year, contingent upon MCC approval, IACS will be offering several Dual Enrollment classes on campus. These courses would be taught by our own teachers that have been granted adjunct faculty status by Middlesex Community College. This will be extremely convenient for students since they will not have to travel to one of MCC’s campuses. The classes that we are planning on offering (pending approval) are:

  • English 400 DE - Classics of Children’s Literature

  • English 419 WW - College Writing

  • IDS 350 DE - Environmental Studies

  • Science 344 - Earth and Space Sciences

Since this will be our first year offering these classes on campus, it is unclear what the interest level will be from our students. Space will be limited in these classes (as it is for all of our classes), but if their is great interest in these classes we will look to expand on our offerings and number of sections in future years. Here are the requirements and guidelines for the dual enrollment program: (1)Open to Juniors and Seniors, (2)GPA of 3.0 or better, (3)Successfully pass the Accuplacer placement test, (4)Approval of the principal (excellent attendance and behavior are primary considerations), (5)Maximum of 4 semester classes during Junior year, no more than 2 per semester (12 credits), (6)Maximum of 6 semester classes during Senior year, no more than 3 per semester (18 credits). Representatives will be coming to IACS one day this spring to allow interested students to take the Accuplacer exam.

We have always felt that our courses are in many ways comparable to introductory college level courses and now students will be able to get the added benefit of earning college credit at the same time as earning high school credit.