LA PLATA, Md. (Dec. 3, 2007)—Community colleges are finding a niche with a younger crowd these days. While you still find 18- to 24-year-old full-time students and working adult part-time students attending classes, high school students are now discovering that community colleges provide a prime opening to investigate new areas of interests, challenge their intellect, enhance their studies and, in some cases, earn college credit while they simultaneously complete high school.
The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) offers enrollment options for students who want to extend their learning opportunities while in high school through dual or concurrent enrollment. Students who have maintained a 2.50 grade point average, and who have completed the 10th grade in Calvert or St. Marys County or the 11th grade in Charles County, are eligible to apply.
For CSM students Adrienne Brunger, 16, and Naomi Wright, 17, these enrollment options enhanced their home schooling instruction.
My home schooling was pretty rigorous but I still found that I needed more of a challenge, said Wright, who is studying business and accounting at CSM. While I was probably taking more classes through home schooling, at CSM I have been able to take fewer classes but study them in more depth.
Ive been self-taught for the past couple of years but since my mom wasnt strong in math, I needed someone who could provide more direction and instruction, said Brunger. You cant ask questions to a book, so its nice to be taught by someone who is dedicated to their topic and can explain things in a number of ways.
Brunger and Wright agree that exposure to a number of teaching styles has benefited their education. I like the fact that each teacher has their own style of teaching but that all of the teachers Ive had really know their subject and seem to enjoy passing their knowledge on to their students, Wright said.
Nationally, initiatives to introduce college at the high school level have been increasing. In March, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates encouraged a U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to consider adopting the early college high school initiative as a means to keep students interested in academics. The early college high school initiative invites low performing students to attend high schools that require college coursework as a graduation prerequisite.
In Virginia, several colleges work with high schools to challenge students through Virginias Senior Year Plus program. The Senior Year Plus Program offers students the choice of entering either as an Early College Scholar or through Path to Industry Certification, which encourages students to pursue credentialing and state licensure, through work, in the industry of their choice while earning a high school diploma.
Regionally, early college or dual/concurrent enrollment programs are being offered at colleges like Montgomery College and the University of the District of Columbia.
In St. Marys County, CSM is working with district faculty and staff, to encourage all students to supplement their high school education through college-level course work.
Through CSMs dual enrollment program, students attend classes and earn credit toward the completion of their high school diploma while earning college credit and may receive a 50 percent reduction on their CSM tuition.
In the concurrent enrollment program, students enhance their education and take college classes while they are completing their high school studies. Concurrent enrollment credits cannot be applied towards a high school diploma; however the credits earned are transferable toward degrees at many colleges including Towson University, University of Maryland and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Some high school students enroll in the dual/concurrent programs to supplement their high school studies, while many students choose dual/concurrent studies in order to challenge themselves academically.
Brandon Dillow, 17, of California, Md. is attending two colleges in addition to completing his high school diploma. A home-schooler, Dillow is pursuing a business administration associates degree from CSM and also attending St. Marys College part-time.
I attended CSM initially because my parents were having a difficult time finding tutors, for certain subjects, who had a long-term commitment to the region, said Dillow. There was a lot of turnover and disruption so I decided to take a couple of classes at CSM. I liked them so much that I am now taking a full course load.
For 16-year-old Madiba Dennie, attending college is just the beginning of a path toward public service. Dennie is the president of the Maryland Association of Student Councils and hopes to work in politics and public policy in the future. A senior this year at Leonardtown High School, Dennie is dually enrolled at CSM, where she is studying college algebra and analytic trigonometry.
This is my first time taking a college class, and it is something I really pursued for myself. I have taken AP classes in the past but I am really enjoying taking classes I want, when I want, Dennie said.
Since Dennie takes her classes online as part of CSMs distance learning option, she has been able to spend the summer studying while traveling in Canada on vacation and in Kansas while attending a national student council conference. I can study while sitting on my bed, at the breakfast table or even while I am hundreds of miles away, she said.
For those high school students who may be unsure if dual/concurrent enrollment is right for them, Brunger recommends that they give it a try. You dont know what you are capable of until you try, noted Brunger.
To attend classes, students need to have all necessary paperwork and placement materials submitted to the college by Dec. 15 for the spring session. For a list of requirements and application forms, visit www.csmd.edu/Admissions/apply.html.
For information on dual/concurrent enrollment and other special admission programs for students under 18 years of age, call 301-934-2251 or 301-870-3008, Ext. 7044 for Charles County; 240-725-5499, Ext. 7044 for St. Marys County or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7044 for Calvert County or visit http://www.csmd.edu/realize/.