“Twice the credit, half the time, zero tuition,” Executive Director of Special Programs Sonja Duncan said, describing the benefits of dual enrollment. Both Duncan and CEO of Liberty College and Career Academy Karisa Young held an informative parent and student session to discuss the opportunities and process of dual enrollment. More than 312 people filled the room and overflowed to hear about the unique opportunity for students in Liberty County.
In 2015, the Georgia General Assembly passed a law that combined existing dual-credit programs into one—Move on When Ready—which is now known as dual enrollment. The program provides state-funded assistance for college tuition, mandatory fees, and textbooks for part-time and full-time participating students, Young said.
“This information session is to provide you with the vital information concerning dual enrollment,” Young said. “So your student can know what steps they need to take in preparing for their future. We want to empower our students to consider dual enrollment.”
The program works to increase college access and completion through the acquisition of enhanced academic and career skills within college coursework taken during high school, according to the presentation.
The majority of costs associated with dual enrollment are covered and completed funded by the State of Georgia, and textbooks are covered by the participating college, Young continued. There are some fees—for example: course related supplies—that are not funded by the DE program.
There are stipulations to participate, Duncan emphasized to the crowd. Those students interested must: be a Georgia high-school student enrolled in a public or private school, or a home-study program; be accepted for regular DE admission to a participating postsecondary institution; meet with school counselors and parents for a detailed advisement session to review the individual graduation plan and discuss DE options; and complete the state’s required DE applications—a paper and online application—each term of participation, so funding can be remitted to the colleges, Duncan continued.
Dual enrollment representatives from Georgia Southern’s Liberty Campus, Savannah State University, and Savannah Technical College came to also speak about the guidelines of dual enrollment at each respective school. Each representative talked briefly about the guidelines surrounding dual enrollment participation, and opened themselves up for questions at the end of the presentation at tables outside of the auditorium.
A panel of six—four current DE students, LCSS’s guidance representative and a parent representative—provided testimonials to the audience about their time and participation in the DE program.
Lucas Brundage, Adam Scharnagl, Adrienne Young and Diamond Rahymes are all currently seniors at either Bradwell Institute or Liberty County High School, and are currently finishing up their time in the DE program. All four students praised the DE program, and the effect it’s had on each of them.
“It’s free college,” Brundage said. “I’m going to be graduating with my Associates degree, two diplomas, and I haven’t paid a dime. I’ll be coming out of high school ready to join the workforce. I think that’s an amazing benefit right there.”
“It increases your maturity level, because you’re around a lot of people older than you,” Scharnagl said. “Being around older people, it increases your maturity, and I think that’s a good thing.”
By the numbers, the 2017-18 DE data included: more than 62 courses offered at LCCA, STC, GSU Liberty, and Central Georgia Technical College; 205 dual enrollment students, 2,201 college credits earned, 94 Liberty County Technical Career Certificates earned, and $227,575 in tuition and fees was saved, according to Duncan.
“You have to be motivated,” parent Brandon Walters said. “It has to be something you desire. The work isn’t easy. To see young people attending these classes, interacting with others, it’s amazing. To attend college at this age, with the safety net of still being a minor, and still having a curfew, is great.”
“I can’t emphasize enough that dual enrollment is a partnership between the counselor, student and parents,” LCSS guidance representative Debra Reed said. “It’s a true honor to see the students develop and grow.”It’s a challenge, Scharnagl continued, but it depends on the course, the professor, the atmosphere really. The professors can be fun—do what they say and enjoy the classes, he said. It’s not as hard as it seems, but it’s a challenge.