COVINGTON -- Not only is Georgia Perimeter College seeing more college-age students enter its doors this new school year, its Dual Enrollment program at the Newton Campus is growing as well.
High school juniors and seniors with at least a 3.0 grade-point average and an SAT score of 970 or an ACT score of 20 have the opportunity to attend the college while still earning high school credit.
Although the program has been ongoing for many years, this year it is seeing great gains in the Newton County area.
One hundred sixteen high school students are participating in the dual enrollment program at GPC's Newton Campus -- an increase of 76 percent from last fall and 40 percent from the spring semester.
"I feel that part of Newton's increase has to do with visits from (the Dual Enrollment) office to local high schools, including more than 129 visits and over 5,200 local miles traveled," said Jeff Meadors, coordinator for Dual Enrollment at GPC's Newton Campus.
Almost every day of the week, Meadors and his team travel to area high schools to meet with counseling departments and other school staff members and students to discuss the program.
This semester, GPC has 33 students, or 28 percent of Dual Enrollment students, from the Newton County School System including eight from Alcovy High School, 12 from Eastside High School and 13 from Newton High School.
About 36 percent of the Dual Enrollment students come from Rockdale County Public Schools -- 31 from Heritage High School, three from Rockdale County High School and eight from Salem High School. RCPS students also can take some GPC dual enrollment courses at the Rockdale Career Academy.
In addition to students in Newton and Rockdale counties, "We have representation for the first time ever from Morgan County High, Woodland High, Jasper High, Jackson High and Walnut Grove High all at our Newton Campus," Meadors said. "Our largest feeder high school continues to be Heritage High School with 31 students, comprising a total of 27 percent of the program."
This year, students can participate in Dual Enrollment through the ACCEL program -- which is funded through the Georgia Student Finance Commission, pulls from HOPE hours and allows students to be enrolled part time or full time at GPC -- or the Move On When Ready Program, which requires students to be enrolled in classes full time at a post-secondary institution without taking classes at their high schools, doesn't provide full funding and doesn't pull from their HOPE hours.
In either, students can take courses in various English, math, science, history and foreign language classes, among others.
Currently, 31 students, or 27 percent of students on the Dual Enrollment program at GPC, are making application for the MOWR program, Meadors said.
"A student may do MOWR one semester and move into ACCEL funding the next if he or she chooses to do so," Meadors said. "I work carefully with high school counselors to make sure the MOWR is the correct fit. While I want all students to have college options, I do not want to push a student into something too quickly."
Sometimes the high schoolers might want to take a class or two at first to get used to taking college courses, and sometimes seniors might want to spend their last school year with their fellow classmates at their high school, Meadors said.
"Ultimately, the student makes the decision," he said. "My job is to support that decision and deliver quality advisement."
Of all of the Dual Enrollment students at GPC, 38 percent are in honors courses at GPC's Newton Campus.
"The honors programs allow for the possibility of (Phi Theta Kappa) Honor Society induction, honors transfer options to some (University System of Georgia) schools and scholarships open to honors students," Meadors said. "Dual Enrollment students are typically a natural fit for honors courses, as these students have GPAs at or above a 3.0 ... and have demonstrated high competency in either the ACT or SAT."
Dual Enrollment numbers could increase even more next semester.
"We have more than 45 students in the pipeline who simply need to score a few points higher on either the SAT or ACT or submit a new high school transcript once December grades post in order to start Dual Enrollment in January," Meadors said.
From 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 12, the Dual Enrollment department at GPC will hold an information session in the lecture hall of Building 2N on the Newton Campus. Meadors invites all students, parents and counselors to learn more about Dual Enrollment, ACCEL and MOWR funding, admissions, registration, advising and Carnegie unit conversions.
Another session may be held in December.