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Dual credits help prep students for college

Harrison County students can get a head start on earning a college degree at many of Indiana’s public universities while still in high school by successfully completing courses that earn both high school and college credits for the same course.
Dual credits are earned by taking courses that are equal to a college course and approved by a sponsoring college or university, such as Indiana University Southeast, Ball State University or Ivy Tech Community College. Graduating high school with college credits helps students earn a degree quicker than the normal two- or four-year track.
North Harrison High School students can choose from more than 20 courses as juniors and seniors. Some courses are available to freshmen and sophomores, depending on classes taken as eighth graders.
North Harrison partners with Ivy Tech and began its dual-credit program in the 1990s, offering three courses through Vincennes University.
Lanesville Junior-Senior High School has two professors on loan, one each from Ivy Tech and IUS, who travel to the school at least twice a week. Criminal justice, speech, English comp and English literature are some of the dual-credit courses offered.
Corydon Central High School math teacher Joe Oakes spoke about the portability of student funding in Indiana and that schools must offer students something extra as an incentive to remain in the school district where they live.
‘We have to be competitive and offer courses to get college credits and save some money down the road,’ he said.
South Harrison Community schools offer more than 20 courses almost entirely through Ivy Tech.
Corydon Central graduate Jordan Wallace, who attends Ball State, said one benefit of taking dual-credit courses was learning to manage her time.
‘The courses were in a block schedule meeting two or three times per week,’ she said. ‘That flexibility and schedule prepared me for the longer class time I experience now.’
Wallace works as a tour guide at Ball State and often gives advice to prospective students about the need to research which dual-credit courses a college will accept and take those classes in high school. She points out that each school is different, and students need to be fully informed. Her perspective concerning high school dual-credit courses is one that explains the benefits.
‘If it weren’t for my dual-credit classes, I would not be able to work towards two minors, two additional licenses and receive my degree in mathematics and middle school teaching all in four years,’ she said.
Sabrina Shreck teaches language arts at Corydon Central and agrees with Wallace in that preparation for the college environment also aids students.
‘The workload and reading are more rigorous,’ she said. ‘One benefit in addition to the credits they will get is being prepared for what the next level is going to look like.’
South Harrison students who are part of the Higher Tech program can leave high school with nine dual credits and five manufacturing credentials earned during the two-year span of the program. As the program grows, students will have the opportunity to earn as many as 15 dual credits.
The Harrison County Community Foundation is instrumental in the success of the dual-credit programs by allocating resources to support county high school students. The HCCF began offering the Dual Credit grant program during the 2012-13 school year and, in 2015, awarded $150,000 to the three Harrison County school corporations, saving students $915,000 in tuition costs.
Students earned 5,173 credit hours in 2016 and saved $1,116,954 in tuition costs. Last year, 440 dual-credit courses were offered. The Foundation will only allow resources for courses listed on the Indiana Core Transfer Library. The courses on the library list will transfer among all Indiana public college and university campuses and are general education or free elective courses that most incoming freshmen must take for undergraduate degree programs.
The Indiana Dept. of Education reports students who graduate with dual credits are far less likely to need remediation when entering college. Remedial courses, which usually earn no credit for the student, are designed to increase a student’s level of understanding in certain subjects before taking higher level courses.
The Indiana College Readiness Report detailing high school graduates in 2014 shows the average student from Harrison County with an honor’s diploma entered college with more than 25 credits. Most full-time college students take 30 credit hours per year.
College applications are designed to show motivation and academic interest and having dual credits on the application could be viewed favorably for admission to college. School officials said students who know they want to attend college can benefit greatly by taking dual-credit courses, especially considering the assistance given by the Harrison County Community Foundation.