Dual credit program offers chance to get ahead

Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

 

Parkland College’s Dual Credit program offers high school students the opportunity to take college level courses alongside their high school courses. They are able to use these courses for college credit once they enter a collegiate institution like Parkland. The dual credit program has a strong showing in District 505 including Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas.

Photo by Ruben Aguilar | The Prospectus  During their teaching and learning unit, seniors at Rantoul Township High School attempt to do toe touches in their dual credit English 101 class on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.  Photo by Ruben Aguilar | The Prospectus  During their teaching and learning unit, seniors at Rantoul Township High School attempt to do toe touches in their dual credit English 101 class on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.
Photo by Ruben Aguilar | The Prospectus
During their teaching and learning unit, seniors at Rantoul Township High School attempt to do toe touches in their dual credit English 101 class on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.

“The dual credit program taught me how to handle an online class and time management. It also taught me basic computer programing, something that I still use today,” stated Olivia Brady, former dual credit and current Parkland student.

The dual credit program has been a part of Parkland College since 1997. It began to gain momentum over the years and grew at a rapid rate in 2008. Lisa Lyne started in the office as an administrative assistant around that time. In 2013 she was promoted to Parkland College Dual Credit Program Manager.

Lyne’s office oversees all student registration. They work with the high schools to manage the student registration process. That can range from admissions to the placement testing process. This semester they are working with nearly 900 students in the program.

Lyne described the program as a two birds with one stone concept. She related this aspect to the fact that students are able to earn credit at Parkland and most times their respective high school.

“What dual credit really is, is a program that allows high school students to dually enroll in college classes at the same time as their high school classes. They can earn college credit in those classes and in most circumstances their high school will give them credit towards their graduation requirements. Hence the name dual credit; they’re earning credit in both places,” Lyne said.

The dual credit office works with the marketing department at Parkland and the participating high schools to bring information about the program to students and parents. It can be a confusing amount of information at times and Lyne’s office aims to deal with any problems that arise.

One confusion is the distinction between dual credit and dual enrollment.

“Nationally, dual credit is called dual or concurrent enrollment. Each state sort of has their own terminology. In Illinois, we have both. Dual credit is the opportunity where the student is taking the college class and getting both college and high school credit for it at the same time,” Lyne stated. “Dual enrollment is where the student is taking the college class and only getting college credit for it.”

Due to a solid partnership with the participating high schools, most students in the program are dual credit and offered the chance to earn high school and college credit with the one course. The teachers that are teaching these dual credit courses are actually considered Parkland faculty.

They often work at the high school but some teach on Parkland’s main campus. They are offered the same resources and training that main campus faculty are. One of those teachers is Betty Jones, who teaches at the Rantoul Township High School.

Jones has taught for over 30 years at both the college and high school level. This is her eleventh year teaching dual credit English courses.

“In dual credit English, students can prefect their writing skills and develop their critical thinking.  Most of the selections discussed can be applicable to real-life situations,” Jones said. “I was sparked to teach dual credit by the wonderful opportunity and advantage students get by taking dual credit classes.  Many students get up to 18 hours of college credit while in high school.  Just think of all the money saved!”

English courses are some of the most commonly offered and taken but there are a number of other options available. It varies from school to school as their budget and qualified teaching staff varies. Brady took a number of computer science courses while attending Bement High School. She took dual credit courses both her junior and senior years.

“My school didn’t offer AP or any other form of advanced class. If you wanted something more in your high school experience dual credit was the only thing that was offered,” Brady said.

Brady brought up an interesting perspective that some schools don’t offer an AP format of classes but are slowly adopting more and more dual credit options. She mentioned that taking these classes wasn’t the deciding factor for attending Parkland, but the assurance that her classes would transfer ultimately helped her make the decision to attend Parkland.

Another key factor to taking dual credit courses in high school is the fact that they cost the student nothing out of pocket. This way they can get ahead with college credit but not have to worry about a financial burden.

So whether high school students are looking for a challenge, the chance to earn college credit, or get their foot in the door at Parkland then taking dual credit courses is the way to go. Brady was able to offer some advice to interested students,

For more information, students should contact their respective high schools or the Parkland College Dual Credit Office at 217-353-2663, dualcredit@parkland.edu or visit their office in room U305 in the Parkland College Student Union.

“I would tell any student thinking about dual credit classes to take them. Dual credit is a great way to earn both college and high school credit. It also lets you try out something you might be interested in before college.”