Getting on with life
Teens earning a two-year college degree, even before leaving high school
Finish high school and then go to college: It’s been the way of our education system for decades. But, like many other parts of life, the way children are being educated is changing, especially for high school students in Henry County.
Since its opening in fall 2009, Henry County Schools’ Academy for Advanced Studies has served students from high schools across the county participating in the school system’s dual enrollment program. The program offers students the opportunity to complete credits needed to graduate high school while also taking college courses.
“I chose to participate in dual enrollment because I see it as a challenge and an opportunity to better myself,” says Devin Connell, an 18-year-old senior at Luella High School in Locust Grove.
Connell entered the dual enrollment program at the beginning of his junior year. Now in his last semester as a high school student, Connell is actually taking all of his classes at Gordon State College in Barnesville. He’ll graduate this May with his high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree in Communications, putting him closer to reaching his goal of attending law school.
“The opportunity to get two years of college experience and my associate’s degree completed while still in high school is something that I am excited to do,” Connell said.
Students in the dual enrollment program may spend part or all of their academic time taking college courses at the Academy for Advanced Studies or at area colleges including Gordon State College, Clayton State University or Southern Crescent Technical College. However, they still maintain school membership at their home school. This allows students to participate in high school classes and extracurricular activities as well.
For Hope Dockweiler, a junior at Luella High School and participant in the dual enrollment program, the connection to her fellow classmates remains through her involvement in yearbook and as captain of the Varsity soccer team. Yet, she admits, she is enjoying the options offered in her class schedule through the dual enrollment program.
“I couldn’t imagine being a full-time, traditional high school student anymore,” says Dockweiler. “The dual enrollment schedule allows me to do other things during the day.” This includes letting Dockweiler assist with a kindergarten class at Bethlehem Elementary School in Locust Grove and tutor at Creekside Christian Academy in McDonough. Both are part of her career pathway requirement through dual enrollment.
Dockweiler plans to earn a master’s degree in early childhood psychology before moving to Uganda where she has spent the past two summers working with children in an orphanage. “I want to stay for a couple of years after college, because I believe that it is important to build true relationships with the Ugandan people as a way of empowering them to do great things for themselves and for their country as a whole.”
The dual enrollment program is open to all public school students in Henry County and participation does not count against the paid hour cap for the HOPE scholarship program.
“My grades would allow me to stay in Georgia to finish college with a master’s degree and tuition would be paid for through dual enrollment and HOPE,” says Dockweiler. “It also helps to have two years already paid for, if I decide to go out of state to finish school.”
Connell has already applied to the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University and the University of Florida. Where ever he goes, Connell is prepared. “Dual enrollment has exposed me to a college environment. It has taught me responsibility and the importance of working hard on my education.”
Henry County is one of only 32 school systems in Georgia to offer its students the dual enrollment option. The program is growing in popularity and the school system is working on plans to expand the Academy for Advanced Studies.
FOR MORE INFO
Got to the website for the Henry County Schools’ Academy for Advanced Studies, www.henry.k12.ga.us/aas, or call (770) 320-7997.
“The opportunity to get two years of college experience and my associate’s degree completed while still in high school is something that I am excited to do.”
– Devin Connell, Luella High School senior
“I couldn’t imagine being a full-time, traditional high school student anymore. The dual enrollment schedule allows me to do other things during the day.”
– Hope Dockweiler, Luella High School junior