This past weekend, 96 high school students received their associate degree from Patrick Henry Community College. Dual enrollment is a growing trend in the nation. In 2010, the National Center on Education Statistics reported that 82 percent of high schools had students enrolling in dual enrollment coursework. However, the number of high school students who concurrently graduate from both college and high school is not nearly as high.
“PHCC has had a successful dual enrollment program for nearly 20 years,” says PHCC Coordinator of Dual Enrollment Dr. Colin Ferguson. “Over the years, we’ve grown from offering a few courses here and there, to offering several robust programs that enable students to make significant strides in their educational careers.”
This semester, PHCC had 636 high school juniors and seniors enrolled in college courses. When these students go on to college, many will already have enough college credits to expedite their college graduation by a full year. PHCC has transfer agreements with over 20 colleges and universities in the Commonwealth that help make the expedited graduation possible by aiding students with acceptance and transfer.
“Many of the dual enrollment students I have spoken to have been accepted to their first-choice schools,” says Dr. Ferguson. “Because our program has a reputation for rigorous coursework and our graduates often prove to be well-prepared, I think colleges tend to look favorably on our dual enrollment graduates.”
One of PHCC’s dual enrollment students, Jake Gusler, a senior at Bassett High School, recently found out that he has been accepted to Virginia Tech’s school of engineering where he will start next fall with many credits already under his belt.
Gusler says he joined PHCC’s dual enrollment program to “get a leg up.” As he finishes the two-year program, Gusler says that completing PHCC’s dual enrollment program “gave me confidence that I can pursue the career I want because I know now that I can handle college-level work.”
College recruiters told Carrie Denny, another Bassett senior who is graduating with Gusler from both PHCC and Bassett, that she would be “leaps and bounds ahead of [her] peers” when she gets to her four-year university.
“The recruiters told me that what I have been doing in my PHCC courses has been graduate-level work. I started this dual enrollment program because I wanted to prepare myself for college. I definitely feel so prepared!” Denny explained.
National statistics reveal that these students and their peers are slated to save over $45,000 in college tuition because they choose to get an associate degree through dual enrollment. PHCC offers dual enrollment through the high schools at no charge to the student.
“In so many, ways this program makes college accessible to those students who may not have thought college was an option for them,” says Dr. Ferguson. “This program is like rocket fuel under the feet of a student that’s willing to apply themselves. PHCC propels students towards their goals.”
Students who are interested in dual enrollment programs at PHCC should talk to their high school career coaches.