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JEFF MEADORS: Quality advising gets students on the right track

What’s so great about dual enrollment students? A lot.

And they are on the radar in many states, as a population characterized by high completion rates and even higher achievement continues to make gains from supportive legislation.

I direct students to go into dual enrollment with eyes wide open and know one thing: quality academic advisement is key at every stage. Demand it and know two things about it; it is both common sense and strategic.

I begin by asking students, “What is your endgame? Let’s work backwards from there.”

Core dual enrollment classes taken at University System of Georgia institutions count for courses deemed rigorous by HOPE. Students must show rigor on transcripts starting in 2015 to gain access to HOPE regardless of GPA.

Dual enrollment classes carry heavy Carnegie weight and may impact class rank. This is often, not always, a plus.

Quality advisement includes a discussion of Georgia Milestones EOCs, grade conversions and calculations per school system, and core versus elective credit relative to rank in some systems.

Public systems weight dual enrollment classes differently, but House Bill 131 levels the field by removing all weights for AP, IB, and DE and slapping a .5 quality point on each class of these types. That’s a big deal for students under the 4.0 mark.

Dual enrollment courses at USG institutions have a higher degree of transferability than those in other settings. UGA admissions recently advised me that UGA accepts more dual enrollment transfer credits from Georgia Perimeter College, the USG’s two-year unit, than from any other institution.

I still believe that students should present both AP and DE classes on their transcripts and cease the worry over AP exam scores.

Completion of one or more CTAE pathways makes high school students competitive. An ACT composite of 26 or higher or an SAT total (critical reading & math) of 1200 combined with DE, AP, and CTAE results in an unassailably powerful transcript.

A typical path in one content area for students in a local USG dual enrollment program looks like this:

For juniors who need two units of math to graduate I recommend Math 1111 (college algebra) in the fall of the junior year and math 1070 (Stat) or math 1113 (pre-calculus) in the spring. If students come from a 10th grade accelerated math track it will often be the spring math that counts for the third unit. They may then take math 2431 (calculus) and math 2432 (calculus 2) during the senior year, thus positioning those interested in calculus-based physics (STEM & pharmacy majors) at the four-year level to be well on their way.

In this instance math 2431 counts as the fourth of four required math units required by the DOE and math 2432 (Calc II) counts as an academic elective, yet variations exist within systems.

Concurrent sciences warrant a separate and later discussion, but they must be non-duplicative of previously earned high school state course codes listed on the transcript and supportive of the endgame. Algebra-based physics, for example, supports an entirely different goal than calculus-based physics.

How do students get started?

Start ACT or SAT testing in the fall of grade 10 leaving room for spring retakes if needed for eligibility, apply in March, and get in the game.

Jeff Meadors contributes occasional analysis and opinion on education and schools.