You don't have to wait until you graduate high school to begin working on your college education. Today, many great opportunities exist for earning college level credit while still attending high school. Some of these are integrated within high school, while others are offered online, through vocational technical programs and at local colleges and universities.
Students at Elkins High School may take dual-credit classes for which they receive both high school and college level credit for successfully completing a course. Elkins High School offers English 12, pre-calculus, advanced biology, advanced human anatomy and advanced chemistry. These classes have specific requirements and pre-requisites regarding grade point average and ACT minimums. The instructors are pre-approved to teach, and their curriculum is based on college requirements. Students must pay a minimal fee to receive college credit for these courses.
Elkins High School junior Renee Ferrese opts to take dual-credit classes because she believes they push her harder and she learns more. "I think this will help me when I go to college because I will know what is expected of me by taking college-level classes," Ferrese said.
TWICE AS MUCH LEARNING — Elkins High School instructor Ann Ludlow works with Amy Haddix and James Gainer in her advanced human anatomy class. Ludlow’s class is one of many at the high school that count for dual credit. (Photo by Beth Broschart)
"I am interested in medicine, so I want to take the higher level science classes instead of the math and English," she said.
Advanced placement classes are offered in many high schools. Upon completion of these advanced courses, students may elect to take a test, and those students obtaining the minimum score requirements on the test receive college credit that transfers to any college or university. There is a cost associated with this test.
Davis & Elkins College offers the opportunity for high school students to take classes during the day, and students receive both college and high school credit. Arrangements are made through the high school guidance office and students go to the campus to take classes along with D&E students. This offers students a taste of what it will be like after graduation when they are enrolled full time in college. Students are responsible for buying books and materials, and they must pay a minimal charge for these classes.
Some students take a variety of higher education classes while in high school. Margaret Hoyle, an Elkins High School senior, has taken a Pre-AP English, AP English, dual credit advanced human anatomy and an introductory English class at D&E.
"Taking these classes will help prepare me for taking courses at WVU next year," Hoyle said. "It is less expensive. I have some of my classes out of the way, these classes have fewer students and I have more one-on-one time with the instructor."
Elkins High School students may also utilize concurrent enrollment. When all requirements for high school graduation are complete, including their senior project presentation, they may enroll and attend the college of their choice. The college then forwards their grades back to the high school and the student is given credit toward their high school education. The student is then eligible to graduate with their senior high school class. Guidance counselors at Elkins High School could only recall a handful of students who took advantage of concurrent enrollment.
Pat Horne, who is a guidance counselor at Elkins High School, sees many advantages of students taking higher education classes while still in high school.
"It's just like spring training in sports: they are learning and getting prepared for their higher education experience by practicing and getting a taste of things to come," Horne said.
West Virginia Edge Credits are offered through the Randolph Technical Center and all agriculture classes offered at Elkins High School, Tygarts Valley High School and Harman High School. Students who complete a program of study earn Edge Credit in a technical or occupational specialty.
Deb Super, Edge site coordinator at Randolph Technical Center, said she is pleased the program is offered locally.
"Students can take Edge Credit classes and then use those, paired with on-the-job training and 35 credits from a community and technical college near home, and earn an associate in applied science in technical studies degree without venturing too far from home," Super said.
Many colleges and universities offer online education courses as well as courses at off-campus sites in the evenings and on weekends. Check with high school or vocational and technical guidance offices for what is available in your area.