I found your recent story (March 23, 2016) about Calvert County Public School?s Student Town Hall Forum to be very interesting. I was especially impressed by the explanation and comparison between AP courses and the College of Southern Maryland?s dual enrollment courses provided by Nick Stewart from Northern High School. Nick made several excellent points about the value of dual enrollment courses and about how technology can help students overcome transportation issues in seeking higher education opportunities.
The College of Southern Maryland recognizes that AP courses provide a valuable experience for many high school students, but I tend to agree with Nick that students and parents need to understand that they are but one option for students to get an early college experience. CSM has been working side by side with educators from all three of our local counties to increase dual enrollment opportunities for students. In fact, this spring 270 Calvert County high school students are enrolled in our dual enrollment classes.
The dual enrollment program offers students an opportunity to take rigorous college courses while still in high school. These courses are offered by our outstanding college instructors. Students who take dual enrollment courses can receive both high school and college credit and they only pay 50 percent of the normal college tuition. Plus, students with greater financial need may be able to receive free tuition for these courses. Upon completion of high school these college credits can transfer to CSM and to most four-year colleges and universities around the country. More than 50 percent of CSM graduates transfer, and last year 1,762 students transferred from CSM to 226 different four-year colleges in 45 states. Dual enrollment while in high school is a great way for students to build on the other quality offerings in Calvert County schools and to gain an early start on college.
Kudos to Calvert County Public Schools for holding these Student Town Hall forums to solicit students? perspectives. Input from students and parents is a valuable tool that all educational institutions can use to make significant improvements now and in the future.
Dr. Bradley Gottfried
President, College of Southern Maryland