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Unlocking Opportunities: Exploring Dual Enrollment at West High School


Shannon Hearl, Niswonger foundation helps students apply for college
Shannon Hearl, Niswonger foundation helps students apply for college

There are numerous early post secondary opportunities (EPSO) at West; a perfect example of these opportunities is Dual Enrollment with Walters State Community College. According to West’s Niswonger foundation rep, Shannon Hearl, “Dual enrollment allows you to take college classes while in high school, and as long as you pass the class you will receive college credit for that class and you will not have to take it again in college!” These classes offer experience in a college like setting as opposed to the setting for regular and advanced placement classes.


Students can expect a different learning environment in Walters State dual enrollment classes because the classes are taught by college professors. According to Hearl, “Dual enrollment classes are also taught by a professor; for example; if you take one through Walters State it is an actual Walters State professor that teaches the class and this helps a lot of students get used to what an actual college class looks like and how to navigate the online student system they use such as a My Walters State account.” This is not the only way dual enrollment differs from high school classes. In advanced placement classes, students must pass a major test to get credit. However in dual enrollment, students only need to pass the class to get college credit.


Some students worry about the costs of dual enrollment classes, but Hearl noted, “you can take up to five dual enrollment classes for free which totals to a whole semester of college classes that you are receiving credit for while in high school.” This grant allows students who dual enroll with Walters State to finish high school with a significant amount of college credits.


A majority of post secondary institutions in Tennessee accept these credits, but it is advisable to check with a school’s admissions department to see if one’s credits are applicable to their school of choice. Hearl explains, “Every university is different in their policies and it is best just to ask your counselor or college advisor first especially if planning on going to an out of state school to make sure they will transfer over correctly.”


In the words of former West High student, Cart Holtman, “My advice for the high school students is to work hard now so that you are prepared for the workload that you will receive in college. Challenge yourself as much as you can with AP and Dual Enrollment classes. Not only can these classes count towards your major in college, but they also prepare for college level coursework and pacing, so take as many of these college level classes as you can handle.”


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