Northeast State’s popular Dual Enrollment programs allow high school students to earn college credit while still in high school.

Typically, most students earn at least six hours of credit with others obtaining 12 or more hours. In some cases, students may earn college certificates by the time they graduate from high school.

Research shows that dual enrollment students are more likely to enroll – and stay – in college and make better grades than non-participants. Plus, students get a realistic look at what it takes to do college-level work.

Dual enrollment welding students from Sullivan Central High School.

Dual enrollment welding students from Sullivan Central High School.

Northeast State offers a University Parallel Dual Enrollment Program and a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Dual Enrollment Program.

The University Parallel program is geared toward general education courses and transferable college credit. The CTE program allows students take specific classes and explore potential career fields.

Here is a look at each program:

University Parallel

The University Parallel Dual Enrollment started the 2016-2017 academic year strong with nearly 800 students enrolled. Northeast State instructors teach the courses and many of the classes are on-site at the high schools; however, students may also take courses at the College’s Blountville campus.

“Students that get college credit while they’re still in high school are only at an advantage,” said Gwen Widner, director of the College’s University Parallel Dual Enrollment program. “We may hold their hand at the start, but by the end they’re ready to go straight into the real college experience.”

Depending on ACT or SAT scores, students may sign up for one or two courses each semester. General education courses such as English, history, psychology, and speech are popular choices that provide college credit and satisfy specific courses required for high school graduation.

Program coordinator Shelby McKenzie said the experience also helps students learn to communicate with instructors and to understand the nuts and bolts of how college works.

“Since they’re still in high school, they’re in a safe place to learn and grow as students,” McKenzie said. “They have a support system that lets them learn from their mistakes and move on. I think that’s a huge advantage.”

The courses within the University Parallel program generally transfer to all colleges within the state of Tennessee; however, students who do not plan to attend Northeast State after high school should check with the college of their choice to ensure transferability.

In addition to earning college credit, students also have their tuition costs offset thanks to the Tennessee Dual Enrollment Grant. According to Widner, the first two courses taken by students are free.

“Cost is always a big question, so the Dual Enrollment grant is a big advantage,”
Widner said.

Widner and McKenzie will be hitting the road in the spring to conduct orientation sessions at area high schools. This helps students understand the enrollment process and gives the College an idea of how many students to expect in the coming school year.

“We try to make things as customer-friendly as possible so students don’t have to spend a lot of time researching the program,” Widner said. “When they get the help they need, it really helps the program grow. We especially like it that dual enrollment is now seen as a badge of honor at the high schools.”

Career and Technical Education

The Career and Technical Education program focuses on students who want to learn a skill or explore a specific career field.

The College works with local high schools to decide what courses and programs to offer. Examples of CTE classes include medical terminology, welding, programming, robotics, and cyber security.

Students may also choose to take part in the College’s Career Academy, which lets them earn college credit in a specific program of study.

Starting in their junior year, most Career Academy students take classes along with a group of other students from their high school. Students continue through their senior year to earn a college certificate by the time they graduate high school.

“We have 61 students in our service area who are pursuing a certificate while in high school,” said Chelsea Rose, CTE director at the College. “It’s a real confidence booster for them…because some may have not planned on going to college initially, but by the end of their senior year they are not only graduating from high school, but they are also graduating from college with a credential.”

Rose said current Career Academy certificate programs include Machine Tool Operations, Entertainment Technology, Combination Welding, and Computer-Aided Drafting. All credits earned in these programs can be applied toward an Associate of Applied Science degree at the College.

Students enrolled in CTE Dual Enrollment must have approval from their high school CTE principal to participate. Classes are offered at a high school or a Northeast State campus and taught by the College’s instructors.

Rose said CTE students typically have no out-of-pocket expenses, except for textbooks – and in some cases, those are paid for as well. Students are able to take advantage of the state’s Dual Enrollment Grant, Career Readiness Scholarships offered by Sullivan and Washington counties, and an experimental U.S. Department of Education program that allows Career Academy students to tap into Pell Grant funds.

– Bob Carpenter

For More Information

For details on the University Parallel Dual Enrollment Program and admission requirements, contact Gwen Widner, 423.354.2586 or; or Shelby McKenzie, 423.354.5186 or

Students interested in the CTE program or the Career Academy should contact their CTE principal or Chelsea Rose, 423.354.5166 or; or Karrianne McPheron, 423.354.5297 or