OUR OPINION: Dual enrollment advances choices

By NEMS Daily Journal

The announcement earlier this week that Tupelo High School and Itawamba Community College have entered an agreement for dual enrollment of THS students to earn simultaneous college hours and high school credits on the THS campus is the kind of innovation that can move students out of high school with a substantial head start on college.
The agreement is the first of its kind for ICC because it allows the college credits to be earned on a high school campus with high school teachers who also are qualified to teach college-level courses.
The program is not the first of its kind statewide, but it opens an academic path not previously available at THS, the state’s largest high school. The cost is $100 per course, which is exceptionally affordable compared to full per-credit-hour costs. The fee is for the college credits rather than the high school credits, otherwise free with regular enrollment.
In practical terms, a maximum dual enrollment load could make a THS graduate a college sophomore the day of high school graduation.
The program has specific academic requirements:
• A 2.5 grade point average
• A 16 score on the ACT
The fee includes the cost of the college textbook and application fees are waived.
Dual enrollment is advantageous to students because it allows them to get a head start on their college careers. In some cases, students may even be able to attain an Associate of Arts or equivalent degree shortly after their high school graduation. Some supporters of the method have said it may ease the transition from high school to college by giving students a sense of what college work requires.
To be classified as college sophomores, students would need to earn 24 hours.
A likely path would be for students to take one course during each semester of their junior year and two during each semester of their senior year. They could take additional summer and online courses.
ICC President-designate Mike Eaton said it made sense for the college to start dual enrollment with THS because of its size and location, and he said ICC is in conversations about possibly expanding it to other school districts, a natural progression.
Dual enrollment begins in the 2013-2014 academic year.