Alan Dailey III has a plan for his future. LeFlore High School’s Class of 2016 salutatorian is headed to Bishop State Community College and then plans to go to the University Alabama, where he’ll major in biology in hopes of going on to medical school to become a dermatologist.
Thanks to dual enrollment courses Dailey took at LeFlore and Bishop State, he’s already gotten started toward reaching those goals. Dailey heads to Bishop State with 21 hours of college credit already earned, and believes the experience of taking dual enrollment classes has him ready to hit the ground running.
“It gets you ready for college,” Dailey said of dual enrollment. “Starting off in college, you don’t feel like, ‘Ooh, I’m going to college, I don’t know what I’m going to do.’”
According to Sarah-Jane Lorenzo of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, students like Dailey who take dual enrollment courses are more likely to attend college and earn higher GPAs during their first year. They’re also more likely to earn a degree and to do so in less time than their peers who didn’t take dual enrollment.
Mobile County Public Schools has had long-standing dual enrollment agreements with local colleges South Alabama, Bishop State and Faulkner State Community College. MCPSS also now has a dual enrollment option with the University of Alabama through UA Early College at the Murphy University Center. The first cohort of 50 students there earned 385 hours of college credit.
At Bishop State, both academic and technical courses are available. Students take some courses in their regular high school classrooms during the week, and can take others at Bishop State on the weekends.
“You have to wake up at 7 o’clock on a Saturday and go to class, like you do at school,” Dailey said. “It was kind of difficult because I wanted to sleep in, but I knew what I had to do.”
Philip Urabnek, registrar at Bishop State, said about 500 MCPSS students take dual enrollment there each term. Credits earned at BSCC are transferrable to four-year universities exactly as they would be had they been earned after high school graduation.
“Dual enrollment is actual college credit. It’s just like you went to any college and took those courses,” Urbanek said. “The instructors who teach the courses must meet the same standards that our instructors here have to have. All the curriculum that they’re teaching, the books, everything has to mirror what we’re doing here at the college level. So these are college courses.”
Students must be in their sophomore year before being eligible to take dual enrollment courses and must carry at least a 2.5 grade point average. There is also an ACT requirement for certain academic courses, Urbanek said.
Urbanek, who serves as the dual enrollment liaison at BSCC, added that the popularity of dual enrollment is growing as more students learn about the opportunity.
“We see a lot more students trying to take advantage of it,” he said. “We’re trying to grow the program on the academic side. We’re trying to find ways to bring it on campus and give them that dual credit. It is the hot topic. … I personally expect it to grow tremendously over the next couple years.”
Dailey, who first learned of the program through a counselor at LeFlore, took core courses like math and history through dual enrollment along with electives such as computers and public speaking. Thanks to the credits he’s already earned, he’ll spend only one year at Bishop State instead of two before heading off to Alabama.
“Some people may be scared and say, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I’m ready for college,’ or ‘I don’t think I should do this,’ but they really should,” Dailey said. “Just do it, because if I did it, they can do it too.”