Over 100 high school students have enrolled in Georgia Highlands College’s Dual Enrollment program in Polk County and graduated while gaining college credit thanks to a partnership between GHC and the Polk County School District.
“Over the past five years, the partnership between the Polk School District and Georgia Highlands College has proven to be a tremendous asset for the students we serve and the Polk County community as a whole,” Katherine Thomas, who serves as Assistant Superintendent of Innovation and Learning for Polk School District and the Chief Executive Officer of Polk Career Academy, said. “Throughout our partnership, 110 students have taken Dual Enrollment courses with Georgia Highlands College. Of these students, 39 students completed an Associate Degree in General Studies two weeks before they graduated from their respective high school.”
An additional 23 students are on track to graduate for the 2020-2021 school year.
“The value of this program is derived from the exposure, the opportunity, and the experience that our students are afforded through participating in the Dual Enrollment program,” Thomas said. “One of the main areas our program focuses on is the transition from secondary to post-secondary. So often students struggle with the transition to the post-secondary expectation.”
Dual Enrollment is a cost-effective way for students to earn college credit and allows students to get a jump start on their college degree.
“Tuition costs are covered by the state, which is a very cost-effective way for students to earn college credits, especially since the cost of education keeps increasing,” GHC Director of Admissions Maggie Schuyler said. “Dual Enrollment allows students to experience college and develop good study habits before they start college full time. Earning dual-enrollment credits often times helps also students’ confidence and aid in the transition from high school to a full-time college student. It is very helpful for first-generation college students.”
She continued, “We have also seen that students earning college credit through the Dual Enrollment program can help ensure that the students will graduate from college on time — if not early.”
Thomas said the partnership allows Polk schools to provide an extra layer of support for students during this time in their educational career. She said students not only gain exposure to high rigor college coursework, they also walk away with invaluable experience in the form of understanding collegiate terminology, increased student responsibility and accountability, proficiently navigating online resources and more.
“Many of these factors often play a large role in student success when transitioning to the post-secondary environment,” Thomas said. “In this sense, our students are not simply ‘getting ahead,’ they are coming away from their secondary experience fully equipped with the resources and knowledge they need to be successful at the post-secondary level.”
She said throughout the life of the partnership, Polk schools have been witness to numerous positive outcomes with regard to students that participate in the Dual Enrollment program.
“In today’s educational environment, it has become clear that there does not exist a singular approach that fits every students’ needs and aspirations,” Thomas said. “Dual Enrollment provides opportunities for our students that cannot be provided at the secondary level alone. Many of our students go into their senior year with only one or two courses needed to complete their high school graduation requirements. Dual Enrollment courses allow students to take advantage of this time.”
She continued, “By exposing these students to the higher-level expectation at the collegiate level they are not simply earning college credit, saving money and time, or getting ahead in their educational career. These students are able to begin their first year of college in an environment that is strictly focused on aiding them in the transition from high school to college.”
Georgia Highlands College offers Dual Enrollment courses on-campus and online. The college also partners with some area school districts to offer GHC courses at local high schools. For more information on Dual Enrollment, please visit highlands.edu