Dual Enrollment:  Twice as Nice

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Students earn both high school and college credit

Northeast State Community College’s Dual Enrollment program allows high school students to earn college credit while still in high school. In fact, many students complete large portions of their freshman course load while still in high school.

“They’re learning in their high school environment with small class sizes up to 25 students, which still means a lot of one-on-one attention,” said Shelby McKenzie, a technical clerk with the program. ”If they’re able to take Composition I and II, a psychology class, and probability and statistics – that’s almost a whole semester of classes before they actually start as a freshman. That means they’re able to jump into their major coursework a little faster than the regular student.”

For instance, Dobyns-Bennett High School senior Gracie Bourgeois expects to have 24 credit hours finished by the time she graduates. Brandon Locklear of Sullivan Central hopes to have 21 hours completed for his combination welding certificate. Holly Wagner of Daniel Boone looks to have 18 hours finished, putting her way ahead of the average incoming college freshman.

“We feel like the completed credit hours give students the incentive and confidence to continue on to college – that’s what we’re all about,” said Gary Lee, director of the College’s High School Transitions Program. “It’ also an environment that’s creates a very high pass rate.”

Lee said the program is a blueprint for future success – sentiments echoed in a recent Community College Research Center study that noted dual enrollment aids high school graduation, provides a college GPA boost, and improves persistence to college graduation.

“It’s a great start,” said Wagner, who’s considering attending Northeast State or East Tennessee State University. “I’m still in high school, but I’m also in college. It’s a great feeling when people ask me if I’m in college and I can say ‘Yes, I am.’”

“My professors have been wonderful and the class sizes are small and more personal than I expected from a college class,” said Bourgeois, who is considering psychology as a major. “At first, I was nervous because I thought it was going to be overwhelming, but it was really smooth. It gave me a taste of what college life and the classroom setting is going to be like.”

According to Gwen Widner, Dual Enrollment coordinator, most classes are taught in nine-week segments at 17 high schools in the College’s service area, which includes Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties. Widner said the College is offering more than 50 sections this fall, with almost 600 students enrolled.

Widner said students generally sign up for two courses each semester, which translates into six credit hours. She said many students take traditional courses such as English, history, and psychology, but in recent years the program has added criminal justice courses at Science Hill High School and a welding cohort at Sullivan Central. On tap for the future are cyber security courses at Daniel Boone and machine tool classes at Sullivan East.

“We really try to work with the high schools to determine what courses they need,” Widner said. “That’s really contributed to growth and interest in the program.”

A big advantage of dual enrollment is that courses transfer to all Tennessee Board of Regents institutions and most private institutions as well. If a student plans to attend an out-of-state college or university, he or she is counseled to check with the institution to ensure transferability.

Another big plus is the Tennessee Dual Enrollment Grant. To offset tuition costs, students are eligible for up to $300 per semester for one course. McKenzie said students may get an additional $300 per semester if they have a 21 ACT score or a 3.0 high school GPA.

Students may receive $1,200 per year in grant money without it affecting their Tennessee HOPE Scholarship funds. Lee said students receive funds before the semester starts to avoid having to be reimbursed.

Here are admission requirements:

Students must have junior or senior standing in high school or be at least 16 years of age.

Students must submit a Northeast State application for admission with an application fee and provide a high school transcript and ACT or SAT scores.

Students enrolling in general education courses (English composition, history, psychology, etc.) or in courses requiring English or reading as prerequisites must have an ACT sub-score of 18 in English and 19 reading. Students enrolling in selected math course(s) or courses requiring math as a prerequisite must have a minimum ACT sub-score of 19. Students completing the SAT must have a SAT composite score of 920 with minimum scores of 460 in math and 460 verbal.

Students seeking to enroll in technical education courses must consult with their high school counselors and the director of High School Transitions prior to enrolling.

Dual Enrollment course offerings at each high school are chosen by the high school administrators in conjunction with Northeast State staffing availability.

Students may not enroll in more than 12-credit hours per semester without approval of the assistant vice president for Evening and Distance Education.

Exceptions to the above criteria must be approved by the high school principal and the vice president for Academic Affairs.

“The program prides itself for customer service,” Lee said. “The application process into college can be difficult and I think that’s where Gwen and Shelby excel. They receive many compliments from parents and students because they have patience and expertise to give parents and students all the details about the program and what they need to do. We encourage anyone who’s interested to contact us – our goal is to get them lined up with Dual Enrollment at Northeast State.”

For information about the program, Contact Gwen Widner, Coordinator, Dual Enrollment Programs for advisement and enrollment process at jgwidner@NortheastState.edu, 423.354.2586 / 423.354.2505 or contact Shelby McKenzie at swmckenzie@NortheastState.edu, 423.354.5186.

Bob Carpenter


grace_bourgeoisGracie Bourgeois

High School: Dobyns-Bennett

Projected Dual Enrollment Credit: 24 hours

What I like about Dual Enrollment: By the time I finish, I’ll pretty much have my freshman year completed.  I like the fact I’ll have most of my general classes finished because those are large classes at big universities and you’re basically just a number.

Plans after high school: I’m not sure which school I might attend – maybe the University of Tennessee and major in psychology.

chadChad Brooks

High School:
Sullivan Central

Projected Dual Enrollment Credit: 21 hours

What I like about Dual Enrollment: There’s actually a lot of shop time to practice welding and I like the hands-on part of it. Also, I won’t have to spend as much time in college.

Plans after high school: I plan to attend Northeast State, major in welding, and get my associate degree.


mckinley-jamesMcKinnley Jaynes

High School: Sullivan South

Projected Dual Enrollment Credit: 12 hours

What I like about Dual Enrollment: I think I’m a step ahead of students who don’t do dual enrollment. I’ll probably have a good year jump on them after the spring semester.

Plans after high school: I’m thinking about attending Northeast State for the first two years and then transferring to the University of Tennessee or Virginia Tech. I’m thinking about being a chemical engineer.

Brandon Locklear

High School:
Sullivan Central

Projected Dual Enrollment Credit: 21 hours

What I like about Dual Enrollment: Dual enrollment is definitely a good thing. You get college credit and high school credit at the same time. It’s just better use of your time and you kill two birds with one stone.

Plans after high school: I hope to attend Northeast State and at least finish my certificate. I’ve thought about joining the Army and becoming a helicopter mechanic.

hollywagnerHolly Wagner

High School: Daniel Boone

Projected Dual Enrollment Credit:  18 hours

What I like about Dual Enrollment: The program gave me a better understanding of the system and what to expect. I’m getting college credit that will take me halfway through my freshman year and that’s a big advantage.

Plans after high school: I’m looking at attending either East Tennessee State University or Northeast State. My major changes every day, but I’ve thought of mass communication or theatre productions, or something to do with children’s ministries.

“We feel like the completed credit hours give students the incentive and confidence to continue on to college – that’s what we’re all about.” — Gary Lee, director of the College’s High School Transitions Program.

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