In its fifth year, Frederick County Public Schools and Frederick Community College affirmed their partnership on Thursday and set plans to increase the number of high school students dually enrolled in the college’s courses. Dual enrollment offerings have also existed in previous years at Hood College, and this year the college is rebranding and simplifying the process in an effort to draw more high school students to dual-enroll in its courses.

Dual enrollment at Frederick Community College

FCC plans to expand its course offerings to students, who can take high school-based college courses or with other college students on FCC’s campus. FCPS and FCC announced they will pilot Career Pathways, which would allow students to take more courses based on their interests and receive certification or industry credentials in that area, in fall 2019.

This year, 929 FCPS high school students are enrolled in high school-based dual enrollment courses — up from 762 high school students enrolled in dual enrollment courses last year, and 36.2 percent of all 2018 FCPS graduates took one or more dual enrollment course. One barrier to further expansion of high school-based dual enrollment is finding qualified instructors. High school teachers are required to obtain the same credentials as an FCC adjunct, which includes graduate-level coursework. But, FCC does not offer graduate level coursework that would credential high school teachers to teach college courses.

All FCPS high schools offer at least English 101 as a high school-based course and most are expanding to include math, said Beth Duffy, FCC director of dual enrollment. More course offerings are available through open campus.

“When we started in the fall of 2013 we were at one high school, enrolling just 41 kids. We started at Oakdale High School with two sections of English 101, and now we’ve expanded to every high school,” Duffy said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to access college early and experience the kind of rigor college students need to be prepared for.”

Students have had the opportunity for decades to travel to FCC’s campus for courses, but more recently FCC and FCPS partnered to expand offerings and solve transportation problems that students may have faced to make dual enrollment more accessible to all students.

High school students who dual-enroll pay a reduced tuition rate of $52 per credit for high school-based courses. Students who take courses at the main campus pay $109.59 per credit in tuition and fees. Tuition is waived for students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals.

“Education is crucial, but it can be cost-prohibitive,” Duffy said. “We want to do what we can to make education accessible to as many people as want it.”

Students from schools outside of FCPS also benefit from dual enrollment at the college. This semester, 15 students at the Maryland School for the Deaf are enrolled in FCC courses taught on site at MSD, which include English 101 and college-level algebra. One student is enrolled in a course held on FCC’s campus.

Dual enrollment at Hood College

The dual enrollment program, previously branded as “Hood Start,” is being simplified to include less paperwork and confusion. Students can take up to two courses a semester at a reduced rate.

Unlike courses taught virtually or based in the student’s high school, Bill Brown, vice president for enrollment management at Hood College, said the dual enrollment program emphasizes giving high school students the experience of working alongside college students in the campus environment.

“It’s a great opportunity for ambitious and intellectually interested students in having this special opportunity to take a college class with a college professor and other college students. It’s a chance for them to see how they would do alongside college students,” Brown said, helping students prepare for their transition to college.

Students can select from a long list of Hood College course offerings as long as the courses don’t have too many prerequisites. Brown said these courses give students fill a need of high-achieving and advanced students to be more challenged academically.

Though not all FCPS high schools are represented, the 13 students dual-enrolled at Hood College represent most FCPS high schools.

The college offers advisers and help with credit transfers as students apply to and attend other postsecondary institutions to ensure credit earned at Hood will count toward their degrees. Students are responsible for finding their own transportation to and from the college for courses, which typically meet once or twice a week during the day.

Dual enrollment at Mount St. Mary’s University

Mount St. Mary’s University more actively targets students enrolled in Catholic high schools including St. John’s Catholic Prep and St. Maria Goretti High School, where the university has an established partnership. Through this dual enrollment program, high school students can take specific courses, like sociology next semester and criminal justice this semester at the university’s Frederick campus or virtually.

Several public and home-schooled students are also dual-enrolled at the Mount, though there is no formal partnership, in calculus and physics courses.

This story has been update to clarify costs per credit and courses taken as part of dual enrollment at FCC. It also corrects a statement that said FCC hoped to train teachers to be able to become dual enrollment teachers. FCC does not offer the coursework necessary for a high school teacher to get credentialed to teach dual enrollment.

Follow Emma Kerr on Twitter: @emmarkerr.

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