Dual enrollment numbers up at GPC

James Fulford working with Jason Ward (the math lab supervisor) on some calculus.  James said that he does go to Jason for help both with tutoring and his own school work.

James Fulford working with Jason Ward (the math lab supervisor) on some calculus. James said that he does go to Jason for help both with tutoring and his own school work.

COVINGTON -- Georgia Perimeter College's dual enrollment program continues to grow.

Of the more than 775 students in the program college-wide, nearly 150 of those students are on the Newton Campus this semester.

Jeff Meadors, coordinator for Dual Enrollment at GPC's Newton Campus, said the Newton Campus is the second to smallest GPC campus. Alpharetta's campus is the college's smallest one, and it has the highest number of students in the program with more than 380 students.

Meadors said he doesn't exactly know why that is the case.

"What builds a strong program is strong academic advisement," he said. "The program has increased in enrollment (in Newton) because we have a lot of strong high school counselors who understand the complexities of the program and can identify correctly students for the program."

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.

The program has seen an increase in students over the past several years. Compared to last year, the program has enrolled 29 percent more students, and compared to 2009, the figures are up 118 percent.

This semester, 44 dual enrollment students at GPC's Newton Campus are from the Newton County School System, including 28 from Eastside High School, nine from Newton High School and seven from Alcovy High School.

Forty students attend Rockdale County Public Schools, including 29 at Heritage High School, seven at Rockdale County High School and four at Salem High School. Most students take courses at the Rockdale Career Academy through a GPC partnership.

GPC also serves students in Morgan County, Jasper County, Social Circle City, Walton County, Putnam County, Butts County and Henry County public school systems, as well as area private and home schools.

Of the Newton Campus dual enrollment students, 18 take online courses, 34 are in science labs and 13 are enrolled in calculus.

Additionally, 31 are in the honors program at the college, and many of them are taking or have taken Advanced Placement courses at their high schools.

"It speaks of the population," Meadors said. "These are high-achieving kids."

As in the past, students can participate in dual enrollment through the ACCEL program -- which is funded through the Georgia Student Finance Commission 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.

This year, 60 students at GPC's Newton Campus are enrolled in the MOWR program, which is an increase from just 16 students last year. The Newton Campus also has the highest enrollment in that program.

In the past, students in the ACCEL program would lose HOPE credit hours for taking courses, but now state law doesn't allow for that. Additionally, state law this year requires that the program is fully funded, so high schools don't lose state dollars for students taking courses at colleges, as they did in the past.

Students also earn full Carnegie units at their high school for each dual enrollment class taken through new state laws, Meadors said.

James Fulford, now a freshman at GPC's Newton Campus after graduating in May from Alcovy High School while in the dual enrollment program, said he is glad that he took a year's worth of college classes while in high school.

"The biggest benefit was not only saving money for financial aid, but it progressed me closer toward my dreams," he said. "Academically, it prepared me for the routines of college -- homework and tests. It also helped build a better and more responsible character for me."

Although he wishes he had taken the program a little more seriously while in high school, taking nine classes has helped him earn college credit toward his studies in computer science.

"You need to stay focused," he warned current students in the program.

After he completes his courses at GPC, he hopes to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology and eventually work as a computer programmer or in animation for movies or video games.

Students qualified to be in the program must complete an application to GPC and submit an official high school transcript, a current certificate of immunization and a parental consent form.

More information is available by visiting www.gpc.edu/dualenrollment or calling 770-278-1270 at the Newton Campus.