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More than 500 high school students dual-enrolled at Georgia Southern
Deadline Saturday for spring semester dual-enrollment
Heidi-Sawyer-Cheer.jpg
As a junior at Portal High School, Heidi Sawyer was looking for an opportunity to experience independence before beginning her college career. When she learned of the dual enrollment program at Georgia Southern University, it sounded like the perfect opportunity.

As a junior at Portal High School, Heidi Sawyer was looking for an opportunity to experience independence before beginning her college career.

When she learned of the dual enrollment program at Georgia Southern University, it sounded like the perfect opportunity. The state provides tuition-free enrollment, and exempts most other costs, for qualifying Georgia high school students who take approved courses at any of the state’s public universities, colleges and technical colleges before getting their high school diplomas. Some private colleges and universities also participate.

A recent state Board of Regents report shows that Georgia Southern dual-enrolled 583 high school students at its three campuses this fall semester. A profile provided by Jennifer Wise, Georgia Southern University’s communications director, quotes Sawyer as an example of what dual-enrollment means to some students.

“What inspired me was a sense of independence,” said Sawyer, who is enrolled at the Statesboro campus. “Being able to step out of high school and get a sense of what it would be like to go to college and have the responsibility for my own classes sounded intriguing.”

She is taking English 1101 during her first semester of dual enrollment. 

“It’s really been challenging to me academically, which is good, but I’ve grown as a person, too,” Sawyer said. “It’s not like high school. Nobody here cares about judging anybody else. Everybody is focused on their school work and their own lives. So, I’ve learned how to be more mature and responsible.”

Sawyer said just one semester of participating in dual enrollment has better prepared her for a full-time college career.

“It’s prepared me by teaching me that it takes initiative and working hard,” she said. “You know the professor is not going to just give you grades. You have to work for them. You have to know how to manage your time because high school is kind of planned out for you. It’s helped me a lot that way.”

Students can take a single course or enroll full-time. Some students graduate high school earning as much as two years’ worth of college credit, often for free. More than 500 students from more than 25 high schools participate each semester across the three campuses of Georgia Southern, Wise reported.

 

‘Free education’

Alexandria Shearer, 19, is now a regularly enrolled freshman at the Statesboro campus. But thanks to the dual enrollment program, she is a step ahead of most of her classmates, in another profile Wise provided.

During Shearer’s junior and senior years at New Hampstead High School in Savannah, she dual-enrolled at what is now Georgia Southern’s Armstrong campus. The former Armstrong State University, based in Savannah with a second campus in Hinesville, was consolidated with Georgia Southern effective Jan. 1, 2018.

Through dual enrollment, Shearer was able to take multiple classes and become accustomed to the college life while still living at home.

“My mom worked at my high school, and she knew a lot about the dual enrollment program,” Shearer said. “We just knew it was too good of a deal not to pursue it. It’s free education and free books.”

Her transition to full-time university student was easier after participating in dual enrollment, she said.
“Now I’m living on campus, and it’s really cool to be able to know what kind of work I need to put into my classes and not be surprised about it,” Shearer said. “It makes the adjustment to living on my own better too.”

Georgia Southern’s deadline to apply for the dual enrollment program for spring semester is Saturday, Dec. 1, and online registration is possible Saturday, Wise said. For more information, visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu/dualenrollment.

 

Bulloch participation

Typically about 500 students, age 16 and older, from the three public high schools in the Bulloch County school district are dual-enrolled in colleges and universities in a given semester. “Students are dual-enrolled at Ogeechee Tech, East Georgia State College, Georgia Southern. Last year we even had some students who were dual-enrolled at Savannah State, and I believe there was one other university,” Hayley Greene, the Bulloch County Schools public relations and marketing specialist, told the Statesboro Herald.

Most go to Georgia Southern, Ogeechee Technical College and East Georgia while still taking classes at their high schools, but some have completed their high school credits and take college classes full-time.

“You have some students that are doing a traditional track, completing all of their high school credits at their high school and just dual-enrolling to start their college credits, but then you also have some students who are taking  courses that each course counts for high school credit and  college credit,” Greene said. “It’s different for every student.”

For approved courses, the program usually covers all costs except “lab fees,” charged for items such as safety goggles, Greene said. Required textbooks are provided free to these students.

College and university representatives and the high schools’ counselors work with students and their parents to help them understand the requirements, the covered costs and the pros and cons, she said.

“It definitely takes a very mature student, because you are beginning a college transcript, and that affects you as far as scholarships, as far as getting into specific degree programs, so it’s something you have to really think about and plan for,” Greene said.

Statewide information on dual enrollment is available on the Georgia Student Finance Commission’s website, www.gafutures.org.

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