Tribune story on dual credit courses
Note:The following is a story that appeared in the Lewiston Morning Tribune last week
Students jump-start higher education
High-schoolers who take dual credit courses are a step ahead of the game when they enroll in college
By Kerri Sandaine
Friday, November 28, 2008
COTTONWOOD - Kelsey Marker is in the 11th grade, but she's graduating in May.
So, does that make her a junior or a senior?
"I'm both," said the 17-year-old. "I'm going to skip my senior year and go to (Lewis-Clark State College), and I'll have 12 college credits when I walk in."
Marker is one of 40 students at Prairie High School who are getting a jump start on their college careers by taking dual credit courses. Most students won't finish high school a year early, but many will get college-level experience and some general requirements checked off the list.
The option is becoming more popular because it cuts down on college expenses and the amount of time it takes to get a degree, said Lydia Deiss, school counselor. An added benefit is a boost in confidence.
"Some kids are afraid to go to college because they don't think they can cut it," Deiss said. "They are more likely to stay in college, and start in the first place, if they've already taken a college class. They're also saving a truckload of money. Our goal is to get the majority of core credits done during their junior and senior years."
More than 26 percent of the 152 kids who attend PHS are taking advantage of the dual credit program through LCSC, which is the highest percentage in the region. Credits cost $65 each, compared to about $204 at the college, and textbooks are provided.
Deiss said she hopes music, theater, applied math for vocational education and more sciences classes can be added next year. "I'm really excited about the program," she said.
Dual credits are also available through LCSC at schools in Lewiston, Orofino, Lapwai, Troy, Clarkston and Pomeroy. A similar program called Running Start is offered at Washington schools in the area through Walla Walla Community College. Some classes at Running Start require small fees for consumable supplies, but tuition is free.
High school teachers who participate in dual credit programs are typically paid extra for the increased workload.
Patti Hinkelman, who teaches college-level psychology and English at Prairie, said she enjoys the challenge. The students are working hard, and it's given her some new material to teach.
"There's a lot more pressure, but it's invigorating and it keeps me on my toes. It's given me a new lease on life, to tell you the truth."
Marker said Hinkelman's psychology class is what motivated her to pursue a career in school counseling. "I love that class."
And she opted for the fast track to graduation "mainly because I feel stuck in high school. I love it, but I want to move on. It takes six years of college to become a school counselor, so I want to get going on that."
Junior Wyatt Williams, 16, plans to pursue engineering or biology after he graduates from high school. He is currently taking English and history for college credits.
"It's saving me time and money, and I'm taking the classes from teachers I'm comfortable with," Williams said. "I'm doing the same work either way, so I might as well get college credit."
Sandaine may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2264