Hundreds of students across Northwest Indiana are benefiting from the dual credit program, which allows students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously.
All of the local colleges and universities, including Calumet College of St. Joseph, Purdue North Central and Ivy Tech Community College Northwest, offer a dual credit program, and have agreements with numerous area high schools.
Patrick Cannon, Purdue University North Central Academic Coordinator of Concurrent Enrollment Program at the Westville campus, says the school defines a dual credit class as one that is taken for high school and college credit by a high school student taking the class at the university campus taught by on-campus instructors.
"Concurrent credit (which is most of what we are speaking of here) is when high school students take classes for both high school and college credit and it is taught in their high school by a high school instructor," he said. "We have some students who are academically qualified, come and take classes on campus. Generally high school students who enroll in the concurrent enrollment program courses taught in the high school have to maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average."
Cannon says PNC has grown from one high school partner, one instructor and 13 students in 2006 to 47 high school partners, more than 300 instructors with nearly 3000 students enrolled in the program. "The PNC program is providing a tremendous asset to the larger community by encouraging students who might otherwise not be motivated, into taking college credit courses during their junior and senior year of high school. We are providing the courses at a tremendous reduction in cost to students which benefits parents and students," he says.
Added PNC spokeswoman Carol Connelly, in the fall semester, the university had a record enrollment of 2,890 high school students taking 15,277 credit hours, a 15 percent increase over 2013. "Of the 536 first-time, full-time freshmen enrolled at PNC in the fall semester, 194 students or 36.19 percent earned concurrent enrollment credits in high school and entered PNC with an average of 12.17 credit hours. Bringing in these credit hours allow students to graduate earlier and save tuition dollars," she says.
Purdue University Calumet spokesman Wes Lukoshus says PUC has dual credit agreements with five Northwest Indiana high schools -- Crown Point, Lake Central, Hanover Central, Hammond Academy of Science and Technology and Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary.
During the 2013-14 school year, 615 high school students were enrolled in Purdue Calumet dual credit courses offered at those high schools. Lukoshus said the students were instructed by high school teachers who were trained by Purdue Calumet faculty to teach consistent with the curricula and standards of Purdue Calumet campus courses.
"Of those 615 high school seniors, our tracking indicates that 509 went on to enroll in post-secondary institutions during the fall, and 101 of them became Purdue Calumet students," he says.
Of the 509 students who enrolled in post-secondary institutions, 416 enrolled in a four-year institution in Indiana, 20 enrolled in a two-year school, 70 enrolled in a four-year, out-of-state school and three enrolled in a two-year, out-of-state school. Lukoshus explains the university was unable to determine where the remaining 106 dual credit students went.
Ivy Tech Community College is one of the major institutions of higher education across the state which offer dual credit to high school students, saving students and families more than $14 million last year. High school students can take Ivy Tech classes at their high school, at an Ivy Tech campus and online.
After graduation, students are invited to enroll at Ivy Tech and work toward a certificate or associate degree, then move on to a four-year university.
John Newby, Ivy Tech Community College assistant vice president of K-12 Initiatives, said last year the college had a dual credit agreement with 420 high schools and career centers across the state. He said 50 of those high schools are in the Northwest Indiana region.
"Another way of looking at that number is that we are serving 93 percent of the traditional schools around the state," he says. "About 20 percent of those students enroll in an Ivy Tech campus after graduation, that's up from about 7 percent a few years ago."
Kevin Teasley, president and CEO of the Indianapolis-based GEO Foundation which operates 21st Century Charter School in Gary, says a college experience is critical to its students.
"One hundred percent of our seniors will graduate this year with at least three college credits and two have earned 60 college credits or an associate degree," he says. "Most will have earned an average of 12 college credits. Dual credit is important but early college is more so. There is a difference. We are early college. Our students work toward an actual associate degree and or credits that are fully transferable to four-year universities."