Earning college credit in the high school classroom

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Scribe Staff

Anthony Zummo delivers a presentation in his dual credit speech class.

Scribe Staff

With the nationwide rise in the cost of college, more students than ever seek ways to drive down the price of higher education.  Students now strive to accrue college credit in various ways.  Accordingly, District 211 has seen an increase in students enrolled in dual credit courses.

These dual credit courses differ fundamentally from the more widely known AP classes, which students commonly associate with college credit.  While AP courses are structured to reflect college-level academic rigor and complexity, the courses themselves only provide credit towards an enrolled student’s high school transcript.  It is the high-stakes AP Exam, on which students must typically earn a three, four, or five, that earns college credit.

Dual credit courses, however, do not have this exam-based system.  Instead, students who meet course expectations earn both high school graduation credit and transferable college credit from Harper College. District 211 currently offers over 50 courses, which allow students to master necessary high school skills, while fulfilling college level expectations.

“Dual credit courses provide a glimpse into the kind of coursework one might see in an introductory, college-level course,” dual credit speech teacher Brian Curtin stated.  “It also provides the opportunity to participate in a class where all students typically have similar academic goals.”

Currently 252 Schaumburg High School students, 12% of the student body, have enrolled in some dual credit course.

“I took this dual credit course not only to get college credit, but to also get a feel for what to expect next year at college,” senior Katie Monroy explained. “As a student, stepping out of my comfort zone is not something I truly enjoy doing but, as college is quickly approaching, it is important to start being prepared.”

SHS teachers work with Harper professors to create curricula that meets District 211 graduation requirements and Harper College entrance criteria. Teachers must prove that students produce college level work in order for students to earn the college credit successfully. As a result, the courses force students to view their assignments and the world in a more sophisticated, critical manner.

“There is a definite benefit to looking at other perspectives and escaping from the echo chamber that is created in our suburban bubble, senior Brandon Jaimes stated. “Hopefully this class will expose me to viewpoints that force me to think critically by challenging my opinion.”

Many students who enrolled in dual credit courses initially feared that they were not prepared for the expectations and workload. Most students, however, soon realized that they are more than capable of success at the college level.

Dual credit courses do a good job of easing you into the style of an average college course,” senior Kaitlyn Chiostri said. “I was afraid, at first, that the work load would be overwhelming, but, similar to college, there are not a lot of small assignments, but each assignment is worth a lot.”

Students who are interested in registering for dual credit classes should see their counselors to see what options are available.  College costs are only increasing; dual credit courses allow students the opportunity to enter college with a head start and save families thousands of dollars.  District 211 continues to explore the possibility of new and exciting dual credit courses.

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