Instructor Don Lytch

Dual Enrollment: The Tuition-Free Way to Jumpstart College Plans

June 30, 2020

It’s not a trick question. If you could earn college credit while still in high school—tuition-free—would you? Hundreds of Piedmont Technical College’s Dual Enrollment students are doing just that.

“A new scholarship ― the SC Workforce and Industrial Needs Scholarship (SC WINS) ― created by the South Carolina General Assembly is allowing us to provide this tuition-free opportunity to students in our region,” said Kris Burris, PTC director of Dual Enrollment. “This makes it possible for more students to pursue transferable college credit and start to develop a career plan during their junior and senior years in high school.”

The statewide program is designed to address workforce shortages. South Carolina residents taking at least 6 credit hours (generally two classes) per semester can attend classes tuition-free at their high school, on a PTC campus, or online. In addition, if students are enrolled in at least one course designated as a “critical workforce area,” they will be eligible to receive a book allowance up to $300 per academic year.

A wide variety of options are scheduled at area high schools and on PTC campuses—from classes that will transfer to four-year colleges and universities to courses designed to help students jump-start a career. High school students can check with their guidance counselor for details about offerings.

Middle College Partnerships on the Rise

Imagine having GPS for your college journey. Middle College provides a graduation pathway that’s tailored to high school students who are ready to take the wheel on their education. PTC has numerous Middle College partnerships in place or in the works.

“Middle College is kind of like Dual Enrollment on steroids because it establishes a specifically tailored path to college degree for each student,” Burris said. “We have worked with partner school districts to curate academic plans that give a strong leg-up to those students who know definitely that they want to pursue either an associate or baccalaureate degree.”

Students begin classes in their junior year and earn not only high school credit but college credit toward their degree. If they follow the curriculum, they earn at least 60 credit hours toward a full associate degree while still in high school.

The first PTC Middle College partnership was established about 10 years ago with McCormick County School District, a tremendously successful program that continues today. Last year, Laurens County School District 55 joined the group offering Middle College opportunities. Greenwood County School Districts 50, 51 and 52 and the School District of Newberry County will launch their Middle College programs in the 2020-21 school year. 

Put Me In, Coach

Talk about a game-changer! PTC this fall is introducing academic success coaching to provide personal assistance to Dual Enrollment students as they transition into the college culture, strive to conquer new challenges and meet their higher education goals. PTC’s academic success coach will work one-on-one to help DE students develop important skills such as time management, planning and organization, work ethic, study skills and more.

“We are confident that our coach will make a huge difference in the Dual Enrollment experience,” Burris said, “especially in terms of setting and achieving goals, ensuring a healthy school/life balance and accessing available campus resources. Unlike academic advisors, who focus on things like choice of major and course selection, academic success coaches concentrate on personal motivation, engagement and skill-building. If it becomes evident a student is struggling academically, the coach can refer them to appropriate tutoring services. They also can put students in touch with peer mentors who can engage them through common experiences.”

Academic success coaches are trained to help students find solutions and strategies to help them perform to their best ability and reach their full potential as the youngest learners on the college campus.

Overall, the primary advantage of Dual Enrollment is that the credit students earn is transferable, which translates to huge college cost savings for families.

“We’re excited to be able to lower costs for our Dual Enrollment students,” said Dr. Ray Brooks, Piedmont Tech President. “We already have a large number of students who complete coursework through our program each year. Many even receive their associate degree at the same time as their high school diploma. This change will allow many more high school students in our region to build in-demand skills and save big on their college education.”

Learn more about Piedmont Tech’s Dual Enrollment offerings at www.ptc.edu/dual or call 864-941-8315.

 

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PHOTOS:

  • Kris Burris, PTC Director of Dual Enrollment
  • Machine Tool Technology Instructor Don Lytch with a Dual Enrollment student
  • A Dual Enrollment student in Machine Tool Technology class
  • Dual Enrollment students in Machine Tool Technology class