For college-bound students, joint enrollment can be needed step to success

Dr. Kevin Demmitt's picture

What does it take for a student to be successful in college? That is a question I ask myself every fall as a college professor teaching many first-year college students. Every student in my class has successfully completed high school but not every student will enjoy the same success in college.

Even many good students stumble as they make the transition from high school to college. Fewer than half of the students who qualify for the HOPE scholarship coming out of high school will maintain the required 3.0 average throughout their college career.

The transition from high school to college requires a transformation in a student’s approach to education. With fewer hours in the classroom, they need the skills and discipline to learn more on their own outside the classroom. Some students will make that transition, while others will not. The more prepared a student is for the college experience, the better off they will be.

One way that students can ease their transition into college is through joint-enrollment programs that allow students to take college courses while still in high school. The courses they complete fulfill high school requirements but also count as college credit. Such programs expose students to the nature of the college classroom, while they still have the support they receive from parents and their high school.

The National Research Center for Career and Technical Education recently completed one of the first comprehensive studies of the scope and effectiveness of joint enrollment programs. Researchers found that over 800,000 high school students participate in joint enrollment programs each year.

Those who do participate are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to enroll in college, more likely stay enrolled in college, and have higher grade point averages in college. Their findings confirm what had been supported anecdotally before: Joint enrollment programs help students make a successful transition into college.

As a father with two children in college, I am well aware of another benefit of joint enrollment programs: They save money.

Every college course a student completes in high school is one less that they have to complete once enrolled in college full-time. High school students completing just one course per semester their junior and senior years can cut nearly a semester off the time it will take them to graduate from college.

Students can even choose to enroll full-time in the joint enrollment courses and complete their entire first year of college while in high school.

An additional benefit for residents of Georgia is that most of the expenses for joint enrollment courses are covered by the Accel program, which is administered by the same agency that oversees the HOPE Scholarship. All of the tuition and most of the fees are paid by Accel, and there is an additional allowance for textbooks.

To be eligible for Clayton State’s joint enrollment program, students must have a combined math and verbal SAT score of 970 or a composite ACT score of 20, and a 3.0 high school grade point average. There are some additional requirements for certain courses.

Joint enrollment is not a good option for everyone. Students who take advantage of this opportunity must be committed to succeeding in a learning environment where they must take more responsibility for their education. Self-discipline and above-average reading, writing, and critical thinking skills are essential to success in college at any level.

For many years, students in other parts of the metro Atlanta region have had many joint enrollment options from which to choose. With Clayton State’s new site in Peachtree City, more joint enrollment opportunities are now available for Fayette County students.

For additional information, visit the Clayton State University – Fayette website at Clayton State’s Fayette County location is open Mondays, Tuesday, and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

[Dr. Kevin Demmitt is the Assistant Vice President of Academic Outreach Clayton State University - Fayette.]

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