By Pamela Antos, Hilliard Education Association
Thanks to the passage of College Credit Plus legislation, more Ohio high school students are taking college courses for dual credit. I am a Hilliard City Schools teacher who has been teaching dual credit courses for the past three years, and I have noticed several benefits for students.
In Hilliard, students from all three of our high schools attend our Innovative Learning Center for two periods per day, where they take several Columbus State Community College general education courses. In the past three years, approximately 250 students have completed at least one year of dual credit CSCC courses in Hilliard.
It is absolutely true that these courses are not ideal for every high school student, so good advice from guidance counselors is essential. Our goal in Hilliard is for every student to find the right fit for their personalized goals. For some students, that may be AP coursework. For some, it may be regular high school coursework. But for some, it is undoubtedly our dual credit program.
Some people wonder whether high school students are ready for the mature content in college courses, but anyone who has truly talked with teens knows that they are already thinking about mature, controversial topics. What better place to have those conversations than in a classroom, where they can be guided by a skilled instructor to have such conversations appropriately, respectfully, and intellectually? We have noticed that when we create the right classroom culture, our students rise to the challenge.
Others have wondered whether collegiate general education courses lose their significance when offered in the high school setting. The answer is no. Just last week, I noticed that one of the philosophy instructors stayed after class for 30 minutes to continue a conversation with two students who were so intrigued by the class discussion that they simply felt compelled to continue it. The professor gently questioned students’ views, guiding them to think critically and consider other approaches while also acknowledging her understanding of their perspectives. This is surely the most pure, ideal goal of a college-level general education course, and these students are indeed gaining a “true” college experience, albeit while in high school.
Taking dual credit courses during high school helps even those students who still attend four full years of college. Just a few weeks ago, I ran into the mother of one of our former students, who excitedly told me that because her son completed a year in our program, he now has time to spend a semester studying abroad and will still graduate in four years, something that’s typically tough to do as a special education major.
I could add many more positive stories, not to mention the deep conversations we’ve had with college faculty that have led to greater communication between both worlds. Clearly, College Credit Plus is about much more than just saving families money on college tuition — which is certainly a significant benefit as well — and while there may be challenges yet to solve, it’s an education innovation worth the work.