CSM’s Dual, Concurrent Enrollment Programs Give High School Students Control Over Their Own Success

Naomi Wright

Spring Enrollment Deadline, December 15

Community colleges are finding a niche with a younger crowd these days. While you still find traditional 18- to 24-year-old students and non-traditional working adult students attending classes while juggling other commitments, high school students are now discovering that community colleges provide a prime opening to investigate new areas of interests, challenge their intellect, enhance their studies and, in some cases, earn college credit while they simultaneously complete high school.

The College of Southern Maryland offers enrollment options for students who want to extend their learning opportunities while in high school through dual or concurrent enrollment. Students who have maintained a 2.50 grade point average, and who have completed the 10th grade in Calvert or St. Mary’s County or the 11th grade in Charles County, are eligible to apply.

For CSM students Adrienne Brunger, 16, and Naomi Wright, 17, these enrollment options enhanced their home schooling instruction. “My home schooling was pretty rigorous but I still found that I needed more of a challenge,” said Wright, who is studying business and accounting at CSM. “While I was probably taking more classes through home schooling, at CSM I have been able to take fewer classes but study them in more depth,” Wright continued.

“I’ve been self-taught for the past couple of years but since my mom wasn’t strong in math, I needed someone who could provide more direction and instruction. You can’t ask questions to a book, so it’s nice to be taught by someone who is dedicated to their topic and can explain things in a number of ways,” Brunger said.

Brunger and Wright agree that exposure to a number of teaching styles has benefited their education. “I like the fact that each teacher has their own style of teaching but that all of the teachers I’ve had really know their subject and seem to enjoy passing their knowledge on to their students,” Wright said.

Nationally, initiatives to introduce college at the high school level have been increasing. In March, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates encouraged a U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to consider adopting the early college high school initiative as a means to keep students interested in academics. The early college high school initiative invites low performing students to attend high schools that require college coursework as a graduation prerequisite. In Virginia, several colleges work with high schools to challenge students through Virginia’s Senior Year Plus program. The Senior Year Plus Program offers students the choice of entering either as an Early College Scholar or through Path to Industry Certification, which encourages students to pursue credentialing and state licensure, through work, in the industry of their choice while earning a high school diploma.

Regionally, early college or dual/concurrent enrollment programs are being offered at colleges like Montgomery College and the University of the District of Columbia.

In St. Mary’s County, CSM is working with district faculty and staff, to encourage all students to supplement their high school education through college-level course work.

Through CSM’s dual enrollment program, students attend classes and earn credit toward the completion of their high school diploma while earning college credit and may receive a 50 percent reduction on their CSM tuition.

In the concurrent enrollment program, students enhance their education and take college classes while they are completing their high school studies. Concurrent enrollment credits cannot be applied towards a high school diploma; however the credits earned are transferable toward degrees at many colleges including Towson University, University of Maryland and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Some high school students enroll in the dual/concurrent programs to supplement their high school studies, while many students choose dual/concurrent studies in order to challenge themselves academically.

Brandon Dillow, 17, of California is attending two colleges in addition to completing his high school diploma. A home-schooler, Dillow is pursuing a business administration associate’s degree from CSM and also attending St. Mary’s College part-time. “I attended CSM initially because my parents were having a difficult time finding tutors, for certain subjects, who had a long-term commitment to the region. There was a lot of turnover and disruption so I decided to take a couple of classes at CSM. I liked them so much that I am now taking a full course load,” Dillow said.

“I’ve been visiting a lot of colleges lately,” Dillow said, explaining that he will be interning at a venture capitalist firm in the United Kingdom next summer and hopes to attend an Ivy-league school to obtain his bachelor’s degree and then pursue a doctorate. “The thing that really stands out about CSM is that all of my professors are very easy to talk to and they devote time to work with you. I used to visit my math instructor regularly for help with my class work and he provided me guidance on other classes I should take, colleges I should consider, etc. I found that really helpful. In fact, I liked my economics class with Professor (Rex) Bishop so much that I took another class with him. It was great to have a pre-standing relationship and being able to bounce ideas off him,” he said.

For 16-year-old Madiba Dennie, attending college is just the beginning of a path toward public service. Dennie is the president of the Maryland Association of Student Councils and hopes to work in politics and public policy in the future. A senior this year at Leonardtown High School, Dennie is dually enrolled at CSM, where she is studying college algebra and analytic trigonometry. “This is my first time taking a college class, and it is something I really pursued for myself. I have taken AP classes in the past but I am really enjoying taking classes I want, when I want,” Dennie said.

Since Dennie takes her classes online as part of CSM’s distance learning option, she has been able to spend the summer studying while traveling in Canada on vacation and in Kansas while attending a national student council conference. “I can study while sitting on my bed, at the breakfast table or even while I am hundreds of miles away,” she said.

Dennie finds that organization is her key to dual/concurrent enrollment success. “You have to make sure all of your class work is done because no one is there reminding you constantly about turning things in like in high school, which means you have to really develop your time management skills. But taking college classes, especially online, is wonderful because since I can’t drive yet, it is something I can do for myself when I want. I don’t have to find a ride or depend on anyone but myself…though my mom does help me organize my time sometimes,” Dennie said with a huge smile.

For those high school students who may be unsure if dual/concurrent enrollment is right for them, Brunger said, “You should really try it. You don’t know what you are capable of until you try.”

“Pace yourself, you don’t have to rush to get everything done. It also helps to have a good support system, both at home and at CSM,” said Wright, whose sister also attends CSM. “And don’t forget to enjoy the college process, meet people and participate in student activities on campus as they are a lot of fun,” she said.

“Take advantage of the time the professors at CSM have for their subject matter and students. It will not only help you do well in a class, but the relationships you develop with faculty will provide you with the resources you need beyond college,” Dillow said.

To attend classes, students need to have all necessary paperwork and placement materials submitted to the college by Dec. 15 for the spring session. For a list of requirements and application forms, visit www.csmd.edu/Admissions/apply.html.

For information on dual/concurrent enrollment and other special admission programs for students under 18 years of age, call 301-934-2251 or 301-870-3008, Ext. 7044 for Charles County; 240-725-5499, Ext. 7044 for St. Mary’s County or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7044 for Calvert County or visit http://www.csmd.edu/realize/.