By Tim Ashley
WARSAW — Even while still attending high school, a student can earn enough college credits to take care of a full year or more of college. And with the high cost of tuition, it is clearly a motivating factor for students interested in college to take dual credit courses while still in high school.
At Warsaw Community High School, there are 102 different dual credit courses offered covering a wide range of courses, said Luisa Davis, co-director of counseling for WCHS along with Sarah Graham. “We added a lot more for freshmen this year,” Davis said.
Dual credit courses allow high school students to earn college credits. WCHS has partnerships in place with Indiana University-South Bend, Ivy Tech, Grace College, Huntington University, Vincennes University and Purdue-Fort Wayne.
“We have had kids leave with 30 college credits or more,” Davis said. “They can graduate a year early (from college).”
Some dual credit courses do have a fee, but many do not and “it is quite a cost savings,” she said.
Not every student who takes dual credit courses is interested in attending a traditional university or college. Some are more interested in vocational type training and career skills because “they are looking to enter the workforce” after high school, Davis noted.
For example, a student can earn 15 dual credits in welding and precision machine courses during a two-year period. She noted the Warsaw Area Career Center has the most dual credit courses at Warsaw by far.
“Every pathway has a dual credit attached to it,” she said.
If a student progresses far enough, they can actually attend classes at the Ivy Tech campus for another example. “It’s a good bridge between high school and college,” Davis said.
Especially the last few years, there has been a significant push in Indiana to move students into more pathways options and give them multiple graduation options. “The state moving this way has allowed us to offer more dual credit classes,” she said.
Davis and Graham both cautioned students need to find out how the college credits they earn in high school will transfer to college. Depending on the university, many of the credits may only transfer to elective credit and the student will have to take the same courses again in college.
Dual credit courses are taught by teachers who have specific credentials and who have college graduate school credits in a particular field to be able to teach that subject.
There are 19 total AP courses offered at WCHS. Even freshmen take AP classes, such as a history class that satisfies the graduation requirement.
AP classes are offered in every department except theater and examples include studio art, English (junior and senior levels), calculus, statistics, French and Spanish. There are three different AP Physics courses, Graham noted.
“They like the rigor of it,” Graham said, commenting on why students choose to take AP courses. “It is at more of a college-level; it is like more of a college prep course.”
If a student earns a score of 3 to 5 on an AP course exam, some schools will allow that to transfer in as college credit. Most students who take AP courses are college-bound, Graham said.
AP courses have been offered for at least 15 to 20 years and some have been added through the years.
“They can all play into what you need for graduation,” she said.
To be able to teach an AP course a teacher must go through college board training which is driven by a syllabus, Graham noted.