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Sunday, May 27, 2018

High School Students Can Get an Early Start on College

Earn WCC Credits With Dual Enrollment

College is a destination for most high school students today. Many local students take advantage of an option that helps them get a head start on their college degree: they enroll at WCC while still in high school. The College calls it dual enrollment.

Students who are at least 15 and in the 10th grade or above can attend WCC while they are enrolled in high school or home school. However, they must have reading and writing scores that meet or exceed a basic college level before they can enroll. They also need forms signed by their parents and their principal or counselor. Students can take up to seven credit hours per semester.

“Anyone can apply. But you have to meet certain criteria to be dually enrolled at WCC,” said John Rinke, director of Support Services. “Students need to submit their ACT or SAT scores, or complete a WCC assessment test to verify reading and writing levels. They also must complete both an online and in-person orientation.”

Benefits Include Credits and Experience

Students can earn a significant number of college credits while still in high school, Rinke said.

“Say a student starts with one class a semester when they are 15 years old,” he said. “If they take one three-credit class fall, winter, and spring/summer semesters each year as a sophomore, junior, and senior, they will have 27 credits when they graduate—that’s almost half of what they need for an associate degree. Or they may have completed enough credits to earn a certificate outright. And that’s a real clear benefit.

“It also is a good way to experience the expectations placed on a student as an independent learner,” said Rinke. “It gives them a real sense of the adult world. And it demonstrates initiative. When they transfer to a four-year university, it helps them stand out from other applicants.”

School districts determine whether students can put WCC classes toward meeting their high school requirements. Some high schools may pay the tuition for the classes and apply the WCC credits toward diploma requirements as independent study or an elective. However, that is up to each school district. But whether or not the credits are used to meet high school requirements, they’re still considered college credits at WCC.

Articulation is Another Option

The recognition of credit goes both ways between WCC and area secondary schools. Dual enrollment is one option. Another is articulation.

“Many high school students are enrolled in skill-related programs where they can earn articulated credits toward a WCC certificate or degree,” said Rinke. “For example, a student who does well in a culinary arts program at one of the area skill centers can articulate that credit and receive WCC culinary credit for one or more of the program’s required classes. Skill center programs in child care, welding, and automotive may also qualify. My daughter did that and finished her degree in a year and a half.”

Counselors Are the Best Source for Questions

Students and parents interested in learning more about dual enrollment at WCC are encouraged to contact the counselors at their local high school. WCC sponsors an information session for counselors each year where they learn about changes and new requirements at the College.

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