DOUBLING UP WITH DUAL ENROLLMENT
Darlyn Estrada, a senior at Battery Creek High School in Beaufort, is a step ahead on her journey to becoming a pediatric surgeon, thanks to a little help from TCL.
Estrada is enrolled in the college’s dual enrollment program that allows qualified high school students to take classes at TCL and simultaneously earn high school and college credit.
“It’s double the credit for the same work,” Estrada said. “It was almost a no brainer.”
Estrada, a first-generation college student, relied on her friends’ recommendations about enrolling in the program.
“This is all new to me and my family, so my friends really helped encourage me,” she said.
Estrada has taken ten TCL classes during her junior and senior years, earning 30 credit hours — equivalent to an entire year of college — that will transfer to her university of choice. She hopes that college is Clemson
University where she plans to major in biology as a pre-med student.
“One reason why I chose dual enrollment courses over other options is because I know my classes will transfer,” Estrada said. “It’s actually really easy to check and see what courses are transferable to which colleges.”
Logan Morgan, also a senior at Battery Creek High School, said he was familiar with dual enrollment because the model had been very successful for his older siblings. Plus, he liked the experience of being enrolled in “actual college classes,” as he put it.
TCL provides this early path to college for hundreds of Lowcountry high school students like Estrada and Morgan every year. More than 400 high school students enrolled in the program last year alone, and the number is growing.
ON THE RISE
Part of the growth can be attributed to the fact that tuition and fees are covered for dual enrollment students in Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper county school districts, meaning these students pay nothing out-of-pocket.
“Most of our dual enrollment students are getting a jumpstart on their college degree or future career for free,” dual enrollment coordinator Sara Cain said.
Estrada agrees that the zero dollar price tag is a draw.
“It’s a great opportunity especially because we don’t have to pay for it,” she said. “Of course we have to do our part and make good grades, but that’s a small price to pay for the opportunity.”
Estrada has shaved off a year from her higher education timeline while saving nearly $17,000 — what that same year of tuition and fees would have cost at Clemson.
Dual enrollment students can choose to attend classes at any TCL campus or online.
“Online classes are more flexible. I work and take my sister to school and even have clubs after school, so I can do my online classes when I can fit them in,” she said.
However, she sees positives of attending in-person as well.
“They were much more diverse than my high school classes,” she said. “There were people of all ages that reminded me it is never too late for college.”
Whether on-campus or virtual, the learning environment has been very positive, Morgan said.
“The quality is great, the teachers are amazing and the communication is fantastic,” Morgan said.
Popular dual enrollment classes include introductory college courses across a variety of subjects such as English, humanities, mathematics, language, physical sciences and social sciences.
TCL dual enrollment isn’t just for university-bound students. There are plenty of career and technical course offerings ranging from building construction and HVAC to culinary arts and computer technology, just to name a few.
As an added benefit to the community, these career-
focused options increase the pipeline of work-ready high school graduates who then bring their much-
needed talent and technical skills directly to local business and industry. Indeed, dual enrollment earns an A+ for being one of the smartest pathways to college or a career.
POINTS OF EXCELLENCE
TCL’s Dual Enrollment program is a member of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP), the only national membership-based organization representing concurrent and dual enrollment partnerships.
Research shows that dual enrollment courses can help ease the transition to college and can lead to better grades, higher retention and higher completion rates at four-year universities.
Dual enrollment is key to expanding access and affordability, especially among those who are low-income, underrepresented in higher education or at risk of not completing postsecondary education, according to the College in High School Alliance.