DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - It's called dual-enrollment, and it's expanding the opportunities for many high school students across several North Alabama counties. The dual enrollment program allows high school students to take college courses to either get ahead in their college education, or study more traditional trades to be able to enter the workforce sooner.
High school students in Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan Counties can now graduate from high school and college, at just about the same time. 21st Century Workforce grants are making it possible for students to take college courses, while still in high school. For students planning to go to college, it means they could be a year or two ahead of their high school graduating class, saving mom and dad thousands in tuition.
"Like in the cyber information program that we got the $350,000 grant for, those kids can start as early as their junior year taking credits and by the time they graduate high school they'll be ready to enter the cyber information program at Athens State. So they'll have completed their Associates Degree," according to Ed Nichols, Decatur City Schools Superintendent.
For teenagers not interested in a 4-year college degree, the dual enrollment program offers them opportunities to study a number of trades, including the paramedic program, or welding.
"And the beauty of going into what we call the career tech areas, which are those health areas like paramedic, nursing or machine tool technology and advanced manufacturing, where those jobs are now, the beauty about going into those programs is there is scholarship money available to pay for the dual-enrollment classes," says Janet Martin of Calhoun Community College.
For many students, it's expected to provide a jump on their future.
"If they start dual enrollment soon enough, when they graduate from high school they actually graduate with a two-year degree as well," Martin says.
Graduating from high school with a college degree. Talk with your guidance counselor to enroll.
This, of course, is not the first year dual enrollment courses have been offered. But the grants being made available to schools will enable them to offer more courses of study in an effort to appeal to more students.