Dual Credit Program Gives Bootheel Students Jump Start on College Degree, Promotes Success in College Environment

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Aug. 10, 2006 – While most area high school students are preparing to start back to school, some have already added college credit to their transcripts, in addition to extra high school credit.  Nearly 50 high school students from Malden, Gideon, Risco and Clarkton, Mo., got a jump start on their college education this summer by participating in the dual credit program offered through Southeast Missouri State University’s Harry L. Crisp Bootheel Education Center (CBEC) in Malden, in partnership with their local school districts.

“The students in this program, who are next year’s juniors and seniors, had the opportunity to take classes during the summer term and receive both high school and early college credit for the same class,” said Dr. Rick Hux, director of the CBEC.

The school districts were able to provide this benefit through their state summer school funding, making the classes free for students, according to Hux. Some students attended the CBEC for classes, but many more took online courses from Southeast, Hux said.“Students taking online courses did the work at their home school district, where they had a faculty member assigned to help them with the technology and keep them on task,” he said. “It was a great learning opportunity for the high school student to learn how to take an online class while they had a network of people to help them. All too soon they will be on their own in the college world and this training should make the process much less intimidating and better equip them for their college career, in addition to getting early college credit.”

This type of experience is exactly what the Gideon School District had in mind when they began working with the BEC to offer the program to their students.

“This program arose out of a need to better prepare our students for the college experience,” said Dr. David Hollingshead, superintendent of the Gideon School District. “Our data analysis indicated that a significant number of our graduates would drop out of college within one or two semesters. We found this was partially because they were not prepared for the significantly different expectations they found in college. Thus, two years ago we worked with the BEC to address this issue. We began offering an array of dual credit courses and gave our students the flexibility to participate in these courses via ITV, Web-based delivery and traditional coursework.

“Our students have received several benefits,” Hollingshead said. “First, they receive free tuition for the summer term. Second, the students have been exposed to real college course expectations on a limited basis. This has allowed them to adapt to those expectations without being overwhelmed. Third, it has allowed our students to graduate from high school with college credit, giving them a head start on their college career,” he added.

These benefits are what motivated Gideon High School seniors Austin Holiman and Amanda

“I chose to enroll in this program because it is such a great opportunity,” Holiman said. “I feel lucky to have this awesome chance. I plan to attend law school, and with the dual credit program, I can take courses now and cut down on the time I have to spend in school. This program is an excellent asset to students. Students can get a feel for college work and thus adequately prepare for the great task that looms in the near future,” he said.

Waller agrees.

“I enrolled in this program so I would have a head start in college, and so I would know what college is like.” she said. “I think it will be beneficial to know what to expect from college before I start.”

Lisa Calvert, a junior at Clarkton High School, took an anatomy and physiology course through the program, which she plans to use toward her nursing degree once she enters college.

“I really like this program, and I hope Clarkton offers it again next year,” Calvert said. “This course really helped prepare me for college.”

Joe Scott, assistant superintendent of the Malden R-1 School District, says the dual credit program has made a difference for students in his district as well.

“The dual credit program offered through Southeast Missouri State University has been a great benefit for college-bound students at Malden High School. Through this program, our students get a ‘jump start’ on their collegiate careers and the confidence that they can succeed at the next level of education,” Scott said.

Amy Baker, the counselor at Risco High School, also noticed the benefits for students in her district.

 “This is our first year to participate in the program, and so far it has been well worth it,” Baker said. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for students to earn college credit.”

Hollingshead is optimistic about the positive results and the turnaround his district has seen from the program.

“The program seems to be a great success, with students having a much higher success rate when they enter the traditional college environment,” he said.

The CBEC’s dual credit program for schools in the Bootheel began last year with the Gideon and Malden school districts, according to Hux. The program was expanded this year to include additional districts, and the CBEC plans to expand again next year, Hux said.