VALDOSTA — Enrollment in Valdosta State University’s Dual Enrollment Program climbed 49.3 percent between Fall Semester 2019 (205 students) and Fall Semester 2021 (306 students).
Watching more and more high school students take an interest in pursuing higher education at VSU “has been exciting not only for me but also for the university as a whole,” shared Megan Hancock, student services coordinator for VSU’s Dual Enrollment Program. “This semester’s enrollment is a record breaker.”
Hancock said she and VSU’s enthusiastic group of admissions counselors have worked hard to build relationships with high schools across the state and to attend college fairs and other recruitment events, where they spread the word about the university’s Dual Enrollment Program and unique model of education centered around individualized mentorship and support.
Lindsay Filko, a senior at Lowndes High School, first enrolled in dual enrollment classes at VSU in August 2021. She was motivated by a desire to explore the science of psychology and a potential career in the helping profession — and now she plans to continue her studies beyond a high school diploma and earn a bachelor’s degree at Valdosta State.
Because VSU places so much emphasis on student-faculty research — learning is best done actively and in collaboration with others — Filko enjoyed an opportunity to partner with Dr. Chaka Ward-Hatcher, one of her Department of Psychological Science faculty members, on a project titled “Informational Pamphlet for LGBTQ+ Adolescents.” Her efforts led to her receiving an invitation to present at the Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference in early November.
“I created a pamphlet for LGBTQ+ youths that gives them resources such as hotlines and local places to go if they need to,” she explained. “I also provided statistics and information about the effects of homophobia in a school and home setting … [and how/why] it may harm LGBTQ+ individuals. I was inspired to choose this topic because of my own experience and the experiences of people in my life.”
Filko described the conference presentation as nerve-racking. At the same time she enjoyed having the individualized attention she needed to step outside her comfort zone, create new knowledge, and make a positive impact on the lives of others.
VSU’s Dual Enrollment Program provides students enrolled at an eligible public or private high school or home study program in Georgia the opportunity to earn high school and college credit at the same time. The program primarily targets students in the 11th and 12th grades, but students in the 10th grade can take advantage of dual enrollment opportunities if they meet standardized testing requirements.
Carson Crenshaw, a senior at Valdosta High School, began taking dual enrollment classes at VSU during his sophomore year of high school.
“It has been very beneficial for me in the sense that I am getting ahead on my school for the future and I am getting a taste of what college will be like,” he shared.
Crenshaw said he encourages other high school students to participate in dual enrollment — but only if they are serious about doing the work.
“The U.S. history class that I took last semester was my favorite,” he shared. “Algebra I was definitely harder than I expected it to be.”
Crenshaw said he hopes to work in business or agriculture someday, and participating in dual enrollment opportunities at VSU is already helping him move closer to realizing this goal.
When asked what type of student is ideal for VSU’s Dual Enrollment Program, Hancock said “any student who has a passion and excitement for higher learning.” She noted how VSU prides itself on helping students develop the communication skills, connections, and critical thinking to turn their ideas and inspiration into a success story all their own.
For Alexis Herman, a senior at Lowndes High School, success lies in being able to follow in the footsteps of her mother and serve her country. She started taking dual enrollment classes at VSU in January 2021.
“My goal career is to be a psychiatrist or chemist in the military,” she shared.
Herman said her favorite class so far has been Spanish 1001 because it was “very engaging” and made her feel “comfortable participating in class.” Other classes have proven more challenging, particularly those that do not have multiple assignments. In high school, she said students have more homework.
“This required me to learn time management and to read the textbooks and study,” she added.
Participating in dual enrollment at VSU has many benefits, including getting a head start on college courses, taking college courses from award-winning faculty at a major university, easing the transition from high school to college, and earning high school credit and college credit at the same time, Hancock shared.
For those who choose to attend VSU’s Dual Enrollment Program, Hancock noted an additional perk — being a member of the powerful and positive Blazer Nation community and being surrounded by faculty and staff who want every student to find genuine happiness and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives and use it to empower the people and places closest to them.
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