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Dual enrollment at Shepherd helps local high school students ‘jump start’ their college careers

By Staff | Aug 31, 2018

From left, biology major David Hayes, elementary education major Jessica Bittinger and biology major Grace Lopez-Boggio explore campus together. Many students will enter Shepherd with some college credits under their belts, thanks to dual enrollment. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Over one hundred high school juniors and seniors from private, public and home schools around the area are taking advantage of dual enrollment opportunities at Shepherd University this year.

According to Academic Community Outreach Assistant Provost Virginia Hicks, Shepherd University has worked hard over the last couple of years to create dual enrollment agreements with school administrations in the Eastern Panhandle. Hicks said this was a collaborative effort between Jefferson County and Berkeley County schools. Shepherd University values and appreciates the partnerships with both counties.

“Last fall 2017, we started dual enrollment with Jefferson County,” Hicks said. “Prior to last fall, I met with both Jefferson County and Berkeley County superintendent of schools, administrators and counselors. Both counties were very interested, because they wanted their students to get a head start on their college education.”

Jefferson County Schools officially began dual enrollment with Shepherd University in the fall of 2017, and Berkeley County Schools beginning this fall. Although the majority of dual enrollment students last year were from Jefferson County, Hicks said a few Berkeley County students received special permission to participate in dual enrollment classes. Last year, 62 students participated in dual enrollment. This year, at least 104 high school students are enrolled in classes at Shepherd University and at the Martinsburg Center.

For students who don’t live in Jefferson County, traveling to Shepherd for classes isn’t as practical for some as traveling to Shepherd’s Martinsburg Center, located at 261 Aikens Center. Shepherd University plans to increase the number of dual enrollment classes offered at the Martinsburg location in the future, which will make traveling to classes easier for Berkeley County. Discussions are being held with Berkeley County Schools about expanding the offerings at the Shepherd University Martinsburg Center beginning in fall 2019.

To be able to offer dual enrollment opportunities, school administrators, counselors and Shepherd University department chairs/deans had to agree on which classes would count as dual enrollment credits. Once those agreements were finalized, pamphlets were made available for high school students to browse from, listing more than 60 college classes and their high school class equivalents. Shepherd, along with the county schools, offered some information sessions about dual enrollment, and plan to offer the sessions again during the 2018-2019 academic year.

High school juniors and seniors with an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher and who have acceptable ACT or SAT scores can apply for a maximum of three courses online. However, the first step, according to Hicks, is to see their high school counselor and see if they are eligible and ready for dual enrollment. The application process requires an official copy of a high school transcript, approval from students’ parents or legal guardians and a letter of recommendation from students’ principals, school counselors or home school evaluators.

“This is an important step for the students. If students are juniors when they start, they could have one semester of college courses completed by their high school graduation,” Hicks said.

According to Hicks, professors are told they have a certain number of dual enrollment students in their classes, but are not given the students’ identities, to ensure students will have to meet college standards in their work. While being held to a college standard can be challenging for dual enrollment students, it is also an opportunity for students to grow and become ready for a full-time college load. Hicks indicated the high schools students did well in the college classes during the first year of implementation, and she is confident the students will continue to meet and exceed the rigorous college classes.

“We believe it will help them to get prepared wherever they go to college. Of course, we’d like them to go to Shepherd University, but they can take their credits to any accredited university in the United States,” Hicks said, mentioning West Virginia dual enrollment students receive a reduced rate of $84 per credit hour.

Shepherd University is currently in discussions about developing a dual enrollment agreement with St. Maria Goretti High School.

For more information about dual enrollment, visit www.shepherd.edu/admissions/high-school-students or contact Academic Community Outreach Program Assistant Barbara Kandalis at bkandali@shepherd.edu or 304-876-5162.