Dual Enrollment Graduate Plans Early to Attend Medical School

Tyler Shackelford had already been taking AP courses at Mid-Carolina High School when Piedmont Technical College (PTC) established a Middle College partnership with the School District of Newberry County.

Earn college credits, on a college campus, while still in high school?

“If I’m presented an opportunity, I go for it,” Shackelford said. “I just went for it.”

Middle College is one of several ways students can participate in Dual Enrollment, an advanced-credit program for high school juniors and seniors. Different classes are available online, at the student’s high school, or on a PTC campus.

Some Dual Enrollment students are planning for advanced degrees. Others are seeking a credential that will allow them to begin a professional career as soon as they leave high school.

“I’m going to the Honors College at the University of South Carolina,” Shackelford said. “I’m going to major in psychology with a minor in biology.”

There are four ways to participate in Dual Enrollment at PTC:

•    Traditional Dual Enrollment courses are taken at a student’s high school with their high school instructors.
•    OnDECK classes are offered on a PTC campus and let students earn high school units and college credit at the same time.
•    Early admission is for students looking to earn credit through PTC but not through their high school.
•    PTC has partnered with some school districts on a Middle College for high school juniors and seniors.

Shackelford said that, along with his high school diploma, he is graduating from the Middle College program with an Associate in Arts degree and has already earned 60 credit hours. His first year consisted of online courses, and he attended class at PTC’s Newberry County Campus his senior year.

“The schedule is definitely a lot more flexible and, really, it’s easier for me to learn that way,” he said.

Less time spent sitting in a classroom was exchanged for more time studying at home, Shackelford said.

“If you did the work, you did well,” he said. “I’m pretty self-motivated, so I was like, ‘Let’s get in there and get this done.’”

His self-motivation extends beyond the classroom. Shackelford has a part-time job he performs online, in addition to running his own mobile detailing business in Prosperity for cars and boats. 

“I’m literally at a position where I can paint my life any way I want, and I want to be able to get the most out of life and be able to help people,” Shackelford said.

In addition, he earned a University Studies Certificate while participating in Dual Enrollment. To qualify, students must earn a minimum of 30 transferable credit hours.

“A lot of times in the Arts and Sciences Division, students will take a large number of classes and then transfer,” said Tameika Wideman, director of Dual Enrollment at PTC. “The University Studies Certificate acknowledges their time at Piedmont Tech and gives them a credential they can take with them.”

Shackelford pointed out that, because his Middle College classes counted as AP courses at Mid-Carolina, his high school GPA got a boost as well. So did his family’s finances.

Dual Enrollment at PTC is designed to be affordable to all students. South Carolina residents attend tuition-free if they take at least 6 credit hours per semester (generally at least two classes) at their high school, on campus or online.

“I knew I was going to medical school and knew it would require a lot of extra schooling,” Shackelford said. “It was a real blessing to be able to do that and save some money.”

He said the classes were tougher than traditional high school work, especially during his senior year, but it was worth it.

“Plenty of students ask me how it is,” he said. “I tell them if you’re mature enough to take your education seriously, and you’ve got your goals together, hands down you should do it.”

Dual Enrollment is available at high schools throughout the PTC footprint. Students should talk with a high school guidance counselor if they think Dual Enrollment might be right for them. Learn more online at www.ptc.edu/dual or contact PTC’s Dual Enrollment Office at (864) 941-8315.