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Central New Mexico Community College


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Let’s Talk Dual Credit

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.


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A President’s Leadership Lesson

Paul Wellman, who was a journalist, popular author and screenwriter, once said, “If a teacher does not involve himself, his values, his commitments in the course of discussion, why should the students?” The essence of this quote resonates with me as the president of a college where we want full, fair and civil discussions to remain one of our fundamental core values. Full, fair and civil discussions should also not be the casualty of anyone’s decisions or of our disagreements with one another. That is why I want this to be the discussion of today’s blog.

When teaching or making presentations about leadership, I often talk about how important it is to be very comfortable with what you personally value. It is also important for leaders to know that values often conflict with each other.

So which values am I talking about and how did they conflict?

In this venue, I believe the best way to discuss this topic is to address the two opposite opinions concerning my decisions regarding the CNM Chronicle. To those who believe I should have shut down the paper, I want to say that college is an extraordinary place that provides an opportunity to learn, grow, explore and test boundaries. College is also a magical time in your life whether you’re 16 or 96, when you can explore and carry out unfettered discussions of ideas. Although there are limitations and consequences, colleges should provide boundaries that are as deep and wide as we can possibly make them. I value that college is an environment where students become smarter, better and more courageous through discussion, discord and debate.

To those who believe I should not challenge student employees’ judgment and decisions, I want them to know I have some competing values that are related to my obligations as president, among other concerns. That is why I stated that I believe the college can do a better job of helping the student employees who serve as editors and reporters by providing the resources, education and training that is warranted by the existence of a student newspaper at a college without a journalism program, including education about the legal and ethical risks associated with journalism.

The current student employees at the CNM Chronicle are passionate about putting out a great weekly student newspaper and they have done some good work. They should be able to write about whatever they want. But, I believe first and foremost, CNM should provide them with the best student work experience possible, which is what we strive to do for all our student employees.

I know this will not be my last lesson in leadership or my last tough decision, but I am proud and thankful to work at a college where I am able to change my decision, experience yet another “learning” moment, and move on, hopefully a little wiser.

I want people to know that we can have civil discussions about hot-button topics at CNM. I want to let everybody across the college know that we all need to feel free to discuss our viewpoints and know that we are in a safe environment to do so. Of course, there always needs to be a respectful level of civility when two people have opposing viewpoints. And sometimes it’s best to agree to disagree. But we work at a college, where a vibrant and open marketplace of ideas is at the heart of our educational mission.

Thank you for reading. And please post your thoughts on this blog. I’d love to see us have a discussion on the topic.