Do you remember being a high school student? Were you overwhelmed with all the career choices? Or did you know exactly what you wanted to do after high school and how you were going to get there?
Dual credit opens up a world of opportunity for high school students. It’s a great opportunity to experience college and to start career exploration at an earlier age. Students can take that psychology class that sounds so alluring. Or take a College Success Experience course to help them figure out what college is all about.
New Mexico legislation allows high school students to take college-level classes tuition-free while their high school’s district takes care of the textbook costs. The student who successfully completes a college-level class earns college credit and high school elective credit. It’s an opportunity for high school students to taste success and to start envisioning a future that includes a college degree or certificate. After one or two dual credit classes a student can step onto a campus as a full-time student and have the confidence to think, “Yes, I can succeed as a college student.”
We talk about how dual credit opens doors to success for high school students, but what does the data say? Research shows that Dual Credit students are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to continue on to college and more likely to graduate from college.
According to a study by UNM’s Center for Education Policy Research, students who take dual credit classes, on average, graduate from college significantly faster than those who don’t take dual credit. Students who take dual credit are also much more likely to graduate from high school, including low-income students. Low-income dual credit students graduated from high school at a rate of 86.8 percent, compared to the overall rate of 47.5 percent. Higher income students who took dual credit graduated from high school at a 98.2 percent rate, compared to 87 percent overall. Also, students who took dual credit were significantly less likely to need remedial classes in college.
Helping more high school students pursue college degrees helps us build a stronger economy for our state. And for CNM, dual credit provides an opportunity to work with students in high school and to help them continue on their path in higher education. In addition, more dual credit students lead to more students in our classrooms.
As a college, dual credit has also provided us with a way to engage our community partners, such as Albuquerque Public Schools. The state high school graduation requirements were changed starting with the class of 2013. Now, all high school students need to complete an Advanced Placement, honors, online or dual credit class to graduate. Dual credit provides APS students a way to meet that requirement while at the same time banking college credit toward a future degree or certificate.
Dual credit also provides a chance for students to explore career paths. They could pursue an associate degree in business and then transfer to a four-year university for a bachelor’s degree. Or they could follow their passion for working with animals and start their journey to earning an associate degree in veterinary technology. Or they could pursue a career technical education field and go quickly from the college classroom to a career.
As we continue to help our high school students succeed in the classroom and provide them that opportunity to meet their high school graduation requirements, we’ll continue to look for ways to build a stronger partnership with our secondary education partners. Please share your thoughts on dual credit and contribute to the discussion.