Early College Credit Shows Higher GPA Successes
When Calvert High School student Kayleigh Lister heard her guidance counselors at Calvert High School describe dual enrollment at the College of Southern Maryland to Lister’s class last year, Lister immediately recognized the program’s benefits and was on board to register. Dual enrollment allows high school students to take classes at CSM for college credit while satisfying high school graduation requirements.
“It was a way to get a head start and save some money,” said Lister, 18, of St. Leonard, now a senior at Calvert and a dual-enrolled student at CSM.
Benefits of dual enrollment include a savings on tuition and a way for college-bound students to start early in earning credits toward their degree. Dual-enrolled students pay half of CSM’s regular tuition rate for their courses, and college credits earned at CSM can be transferred to most colleges and universities around the country.
In addition, the early rigor provided by dual enrollment has proven to pay off in higher achievement. “All the numbers, nationwide and in this area, show that students who participate in dual enrollment have a higher GPA when they start college full time,” said CSM Director of Admissions Brian Hammond.
Dual enrollment also allows Lister to continue with her regular high school activities. She plays field hockey for Calvert. She also holds down two part-time jobs — one as a babysitter and the other at a local smoothie restaurant. She takes three classes at her high school, two classes at the nearby CSM Prince Frederick Campus and two online CSM classes.
Lister will walk away from CSM at the end of this summer with 33 college credits completed. “She is a real go-getter,” said CSM Assistant Director of Admissions Shelby Potts. “That is a whole year of college.”
When asked, Lister could think of no negatives about her participation in dual enrollment. Her parents, however, had reservations at first. “They were worried that I would take on too much,” Lister said. But the extra scheduling and extra work have not been a problem, she said. The CSM courses are different from a high school class, she said. “You have more to do.” But she feels comfortable at the college. She has known at least one person in each of her CSM classes and she has found the CSM staff and faculty very helpful.
“Everyone is really supportive of dual-enrollment kids,” she said.
Dawn Lister, Kayleigh’s mother, has been won over by her daughter’s positive experience with dual enrollment at CSM. “She’s pleasantly surprised us,” Dawn said. “She’s very organized, driven and determined.”
In fact, Dawn now advocates for dual enrollment. She says her daughter has earned college credit all while having a very good high school experience. “I’d highly recommend the program,” she said. “Why wouldn’t you want your child to have the chance to start college early? But you have to know your child and whether they are able to manage their time.”
Kayleigh Lister’s goal is to save money by completing college two years early. CSM’s dual enrollment program is helping to make that possible as she works toward a career as a history teacher or a nurse. She will continue her college education this fall at Salisbury University.
The number of Southern Maryland families like the Listers, who see the benefits of earning college credit early, has been increasing over the last several years. In fall 2013, 176 high school students participated in CSM’s dual-enrollment program — 42 from Charles County, 57 from Calvert and 77 from St. Mary’s.
That’s up by 80 percent this spring, with 316 Southern Maryland students in the program — 115 from Charles County, 86 from Calvert and 115 from St. Mary’s. In addition, 722 additional high school students are taking advantage of the opportunity to take Dual Enrolled Math or English courses for college credit without leaving their high school campus.
“Dual enrollment is growing in popularity because students and their parents are seeing the academic and the cost benefits,” Hammond said. “By participating in dual enrollment students are earning an opportunity to complete a semester or two of college at a fraction of what they would pay at their four-year college.”
Dual enrollment at CSM is a competitive admissions program, and students must demonstrate college-readiness. Deadlines to complete an application, complete college level placement options and submit a signed form are May 15 for the summer semester, July 15 for the fall semester and Dec. 15 for the spring semester.
For information on dual enrollment at CSM, call 301-934-2251 (option 0) or visit www.csmd.edu/dualenrollment.