High school students get a head start on college


March 9, 2010 at 5:01 p.m.
Updated March 9, 2010 at 9:10 p.m.

By the time Meredith Dornak graduates high school, she will already have 29 college credit hours under her belt.

The Cuero High School senior would like to be a pharmacist, and has been taking college classes while in high school to save time.

"I'll be saving maybe a year and a half for sure," the 18-year-old said. "I can take away a year of college so I can get my degree faster and get my career started."

Meredith is one of more than 400 high school students in the Crossroads taking college courses this spring semester through Victoria College.

After meeting all the qualifications, VC enables students to get their generally required high school courses, such as English or math, out of the way before entering college full time.

Some dual credit classes VC offers include English, math, chemistry, government and economics.

"We do have quite of few racking up the hours," said Melissa Robinson, VC director of pre-college programs. "It's an excellent opportunity for students to get their feet wet."

High schools vary in which dual credit courses are available for their students.

College courses are offered in various ways, such as through online only, or having adjunct professors teach at a high school. Other classes are taught through Internet Television, where a lecture is broadcast live via satellite from VC into a high school classroom.

Tuition and fees for a three-hour course at VC costs $207 for in-county residents and $342 for those out-of-county, Robinson said.

"It's still a lot less than taking the same class at a university," she said.

Courses students take are guaranteed to transfer to any public university in Texas, Robinson said.

Taking college courses while in high school prepares students for higher education, students say.

"It introduces you into the college format instead of just high school so you're not in complete shock when you get there," said Emily Warfield, a Cuero senior. "It also looks really good on your college application because you're showing that you're attempting to do more in high school."

Students also get a firsthand look at what to expect in college, said Dustin Hajek, 17, of Cuero High School.

Some of his assignments and quizzes must be submitted online by 6 a.m.

"No one's really up at six o'clock in the morning," Dustin said. "It's telling you you better not procrastinate because if you do, you're in a hole now."

It took Payton Ritchey, a sophomore at Memorial High School, discipline to budget her time for college courses.

She took VC courses in English, history and psychology all online.

"You constantly have too much do to do, no matter what else you have going on," Payton, 15, said. "So, it did take a lot of discipline. It took a time to get used to it, but it gets easier."

Callie Robisheaux, a MHS senior, spent summers and school evenings taking basic college courses such as English and history.

"I took them to not be bored during the summer and get ahead," Callie said. "I'm going to have a lot of my freshman year already done with."

Students taking dual credit classes are just happy to get them out of the way, they say.

"We have a head start now," Dustin said. "We're killing two birds with one stone."



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