Gadsden State dual enrollment numbers rise

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Gadsden State Community College had a record number of dual enrollment students for the Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 semesters.
“We continue to see an increase in dual enrollment students each academic year,” said Dr. Kathy Murphy, president of Gadsden State. “More students are recognizing the benefits of taking dual enrollment college classes while in high school.”

Over the past two semesters, 1,537 students were enrolled in college courses at Gadsden State concurrently with high school classes. That’s an increase of 178 percent from Fall 2014 when only 276 students were dually enrolled.

“The increase in enrollment has resulted in additional funding from the Alabama Community College System,” said Tonya Douthitt, coordinator of Gadsden State’s Dual Enrollment Program. “We have seen funding allocations increase from $26,000 in the fiscal year 2013 to over $975,000 for the current fiscal year.”

Since 2014, over $5.4 million has been granted to Gadsden State for dual enrollment students. In the same timeframe, there have been 40 new onsite dual enrollment courses added at various high school campuses in Gadsden State’s service area of Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah and St. Clair counties. Eligible students may enroll during any semester or mini term and can be in general education or career technical programs. Dual enrollment courses are available in traditional, online and hybrid formats in addition to the courses available in the high schools.

“We have a wide variety of programs and course options available to our high school students,” Douthitt said. “Students can follow a career path that is high-wage and high-demand or they can explore opportunities in STEM-related academic courses, like math and science.”

Murphy announced at the recent commencement ceremony on May 11 at Gadsden State Cherokee that 17 dual enrollment students earned certifications as high school students.

“It is remarkable that these young people are able to complete college course requirements to earn a certification before they even receive their high school diploma,” she said. “The Dual Enrollment Program put them ahead of the game.”

Eleven students earned their short-term certificate in welding while six students became emergency medical technicians. The programs require 28 and 12 credit hours respectively. The certification verifies that the students are prepared for entry-level employment in their chosen field.

Students earning welding certificates are Michael Benson, Austin Davenport, Jesus Diaz, Cameron Gable, Braxton Garrard, Jackson Garrard, Riley Maise, Armando Nunez, Haddon Smith, Jackson Steward and Jesus Valdez. EMT completers are Hunter Bridges, Macon Cofield, Coalie Easterwood, Kaytlyn Gardner, Kinslee Pressley and Teiona Wiggins.

“These students have an advantage over some of their peers because they are able to go straight into the workforce right after high school graduation or they are already well on their way to earning an associate degree,” Douthitt said. “In the end, they will most likely earn their degree well before those who were not dually enrolled.”

Scholarships are available and are funded by the Career Technical Dual Enrollment Grant from the ACCS. Career tech programs and STEM courses are given priority when awarding scholarships. Books, materials and supplies may also be provided based upon the availability of funding.
To be eligible for the Dual Enrollment Program, students must be a high school sophomore, junior or senior. They must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 for academic courses or a 2.0 to enroll in approved career technical programs. Approval is required from parents and a high school official.

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