WESTVILLE | Five local school districts were pleased to be part of an effort with Purdue University North Central that takes dual credit a step further.
Dual credit is a program in which high school students have the opportunity to earn both high school and college credits simultaneously. Dual credit courses are taught by high school faculty, adjunct college faculty or college faculty either at the high school, at the college or university or through online courses.
PNC's new program is called 1 + 3 Concurrent Enrollment Program. Rather than just taking random dual credit classes for credit, students will be geared to taking the classes they need as a college freshman. If the student goes on to PNC, they enroll with one year of college credit and only need three more years to earn a bachelor's degree.
Paul McGuinness, a PNC vice chancellor, said accelerating a student's time to complete a university degree will increase the odds of a student completing a bachelor's degree and reduce the cost to attend.
"This agreement gives students a concrete pathway or map of how their concurrent or dual credit course will count toward a plan of study," he said.
The classes will cost the same as dual credit classes at $25 per credit hour. The cost of the class will be higher if the class is not on the state list of dual credit courses.
PNC Chancellor James Dworkin said the state needs to increase the number of college graduates. "We must all work harder to assist people in getting degrees. This is our way to work toward that goal," he said.
Officials from five local schools, including Chesterton High School, Portage, Michigan City, LaPorte and Westville high schools signed the agreement with PNC officials to begin the pilot project this school year.
Ric Frataccia, Portage Townships Schools superintendent, said his district has long had a relationship with Purdue North Central and "when students successfully finish this program, they will be on their way to a degree."
Duneland Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett said they are blessed to have a university looking toward the future with a program that will help the region's students.
"This expands dual credit so that more students can take advantage of PNC's programs," he said.