News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 18, 2011

FLASHPOINT: Dual credit: making college more affordable for families

By Thomas J. Snyder
Ivy Tech Community College President

---- — For many parents, financing a child’s college education can seem daunting. Even with financial aid, and with the knowledge that education is an investment that pays dividends long into the future, many families believe they simply cannot fit college tuition into their budget.

That’s why Ivy Tech Community College is working with its K-12 partners throughout Indiana to raise awareness about dual credit. Ivy Tech’s dual credit program allows high school juniors and seniors to simultaneously earn both high school credit and college credit.  These classes are free, which results in a significant cost savings for families of college-bound students.

How significant are the savings associated with dual credit? During the 2010-11 school year alone, Ivy Tech Community College enrolled 25,429 Indiana high school students in dual credit, saving parents more than $12.2 million in college tuition costs. And the numbers are growing: this year’s dual credit enrollment represents a 20-percent increase in students as compared to the 2009-10 school year. The college currently offers dual credit programs at 300 Indiana high schools and career centers.

Still, we believe dual credit is somewhat of a well-kept secret — and that needs to change. John Newby, Ivy Tech’s assistant vice president of K-12 initiatives, has been working with administrators throughout the state to ensure that more students and parents know of this opportunity. John, who worked in K-12 public education for 32 years — including 10 years as superintendent of the New Castle Community School Corporation — has a unique understanding of the challenges K-12 institutions face. His insight, and the perspective of the state’s K-12 leaders, has been responsible for the growth of our dual credit program. More awareness beyond the education sector, however, is needed.

Our sense of urgency about increasing dual credit enrollment is driven not just by the cost savings it provides to parents, but other factors as well:

n First, our employers need access to skilled workers in order to remain globally competitive. In short, we need more college graduates, and dual credit allows students to finish college and enter the workforce more quickly than otherwise would be possible.

n Second, our students deserve the chance to use their time in the classroom more efficiently. Instead of insisting that students do repetitive work — work that ultimately diminishes their enthusiasm for learning — we must inspire them to aim higher and ready themselves for the rigor required in college classes.

n Third, our state must take an innovative approach to education in order to stay competitive. Instead of relying on new strategies that may take years to bear fruit, dual credit makes the most of two of ready assets: our excellent K-12 schools and our statewide community college system, which is the largest of its kind in the U.S.

n Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a student who leaves high school with college credit is much more likely to pursue, and complete, a college degree. Dual credit helps students overcome real or perceived obstacles to higher education.

It’s clear that dual credit has far-reaching implications. Whether you are in business, the non-profit sector or government, increased enrollment in dual credit would provide long-lasting benefits to our state, economically, socially, and culturally.

Approximately 98 percent of all Indiana high schools have the opportunity to participate Ivy Tech’s dual credit programs. If our state even began to approach those participation levels, we would realize a lasting impact in our rates of college attendance, college completion, and ultimately, our standard of living. So the next time you’re speaking to a family considering college for one of their children, make sure they know about dual credit.

Let’s move dual credit from a well-kept secret to one of Indiana’s greatest success

stories.