Seventeen years ago, the state of Michigan passed public act 258 for career and technical preparation, which is also known as dual enrollment.
Dual enrollment allows students to earn college credits while still attending high school and in a sense get ahead of the game.
However, not too many students at Williamston High School are taking advantage of this resource.
Jeffrey Thoenes, the principal of Williamston High School, said the school only reported about four or five students who were enrolled at either MSU or Lansing Community College last year.
“It’s not very many, but it is a few,” Thoenes said.
Thoenes has been the principal of Williamston High School for eight years and he said the program has been available since he arrived.
In order for a student to qualify for dual enrollment courses, Thoenes said they have to exhaust all of the curriculum at the high school first.
“So for example, if a student has taken all of the math we offer here, they’ve taken calculus, they can take advanced math classes at MSU,” he said.
Thoenes said transportation and book expenses is students’ or their parents’ responsibility, but there is a formula for tuition payments to the college.
“It ends being about two-thirds paid by the district and about one-third by the family,” Thoenes said.
“I think that’s a really nice balance. That way the family has an involvement financially, an investment in the child going and being successful and the district obviously pays the majority of the cost since they’re still in public school. It works out nicely.”
MSU freshman Ladell Watson said he participated in dual enrollment and it ended with a bad experience for him when none of his credits transferred because his high school never paid for them.
“Nonetheless, I think students should still do dual enrollment for the experience so they can be prepared and get that understanding of what college could be,” Watson said.
Thoenes said the students have to apply and be admitted by the university like any other student and if they can make the cut, they should take advantage of it.
“It seems like a best win-win scenario to me,” Thoenes said. “We don’t have anything for them to challenge them here at this level. For us to provide it would be too burdensome or not really feasible because of the finances.”
The high school does not have a formal program where students are checked on to assure success in the college courses, but Thoenes said there are guidance counselors to help along the way if needed.
“They normally do very very well; obviously to be motivated enough to go to college, literally college, while you’re still in high school,” he said.
“For the most part, students do as well or nearly as well as in high school, mostly A’s and B’s. I can remember a few years ago that a student dropped dual enrollment because it was too hard but that is the exception and not the rule.”
MSU sophomore Korina Southward said she took dual enrollment courses while she was in high school and the hard work honestly paid off.
“The work challenged me more than my high school ever could and it prepared me for my future at MSU at the same time,” Southward said.
She said if students have the chance to experience things at a cheaper cost, then why not take it?
“It’s a great a way for the student to transition into the next phase of their educational experience,” Theones said.