Southern Union’s dual enrollment program gives students a chance to get ahead in their careers

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Special to the Opelika Observer

Special to the
Opelika Observer

On May 11, Matthew Caypless will receive an associate’s degree from Southern Union State Community College (SUSCC).  A few weeks later, he will cross another graduation stage, this time to receive his high school diploma.
Caypless is just one example of an increasing number of students who take advantage of the dual enrollment program at SUSCC, which allows students to take college courses while still enrolled in high school.
By participating in this program, high school students earn credit for a college class on both their high school and college transcripts.  Since 2014-15, the number of high school students participating in Southern Union’s dual enrollment program has quadrupled from 98 dual enrollment students to 376 students for 2016-17.  Dual enrollment programs differ from Advanced Placement programs in that students take college courses rather than high school courses with college-level content.
To enroll in a dual enrollment course, students must be in the 10th – 12th grades and have a minimum cumulative (unweighted) high school grade point average of 2.5 or higher. Students who take part in dual enrollment classes have a seamless transition into college or a career.
Caypless, who will complete the air conditioning and refrigeration program this semester, sees the program as a way to progress in your career goals.   “I would recommend the dual enrollment program to anyone.  It is easy to enroll and it gives you an opportunity to get ahead,” said Caypless.
Studies have shown that participating in dual enrollment programs lead to long-term college and career success. And, overall, instructors have positive comments about students who are dually enrolled. Case in point is Caypless.  “Matt is an excellent example of what hard work and determination can accomplish. He has proven to me that just because you are young, doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish big things. All it takes is setting your mind to something and working as hard as it takes to make it happen,” commented David Burdette, air conditioning and refrigeration instructor.
There is opportunity for financial assistance for students who dual enroll in technical education and health sciences courses. The Alabama Legislature has approved funds for the Alabama Future Workforce Initiative (AFWI) which are allocated to assist secondary career and technical education students earn postsecondary credits while still in high school.
Parents are encouraged to learn more about the program by attending an information session offered at SUSCC. “Dual Enrollment provides opportunities for students who want to get started in their careers earlier by working towards a degree or certificate in certain fields or for those students who want to get a jump on academic transfer courses while saving money,” Eddie Pigg said, who serves as the dual enrollment liaison for SUSCC.  “It is a wonderful opportunity for area students.”
The parent information night will be held on April 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Southern Room on the Opelika campus.  A scholarship valued at $500 will be given away at the meeting.  Parent’s attendance at the meeting qualifies their student to enter the drawing.  For more information, contact Pigg at 334-745-6437 or at epigg@suscc.edu.

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