More Students in High School Taking College Classes Thanks to New Legislation

October 25, 2013

Many high school students around the Commonwealth are getting a jump start on their college education thanks to new Virginia legislation.

Sophia Webb is not your typical high school student. She is enrolled at Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) and is a full time student, taking 15 credit hours.

Webb doesn't even step foot on Western Albemarle High School's campus, where she's enrolled. She spends all of her class time at PVCC.

She is enrolled in the dual credit program at PVCC and is also working on the guaranteed admissions program at the University of Virginia, which guarantees admission for students in the College of Arts and Sciences at Community Colleges around the Commonwealth.

“This program basically allowed me to go to my dream school,” says Webb. “I've always wanted to go UVa since I was about seven.”

These programs are becoming a popular trend for students to earn college credit without stepping on campus. Thanks to new legislation in Va, it is now a requirement for community colleges to partner with local high schools.

“No admission, no application, it's just a matter of finding out what remains in the high school diploma what dual enrollment and AP courses we offer, which automatically allows for college credit,” says Chad Ratliff, assistant director of instructional programs at Albemarle Co. Schools.

Ratliff says that most students begin taking college courses as juniors in high school, but Andrew Renshaw, dual credit coordinator for PVCC, says the program is not for every student.

“You really have to be serious about this to be able to succeed, because we are talking about college classes,” says Renshaw. “So the rigor, the homework, the expectations are going to be on a college level.”

But Webb is ready for that challenge and hopes that she will be able to finish her senior year of high school and begin her college career at UVa as a sophomore, double majoring in government and global development studies and minoring in economics.

Other than college credit, there are also financial benefits to dual credit and dual enrollment.

One way to see the price of college tuition is to check them out online and compare. You can go on the website below, click on the college of your choice and compare it to other Va. four year institutions.

For students in the dual credit program, they pay the community college rate and tuition at community colleges is significantly lower than that of a four year university.

For dual enrollment students who are taking college and advanced placement courses at their high schools, there is no money out of their pockets.

“So it's a great opportunity for students who want to get ahead in college, want to stay on their high school campus and get those college credits,” says Renshaw.

“If you come to this school and you approach it with a lot of ambition and the perspective of a full time student, then doors will kind of open for you,” says Webb.

Webb is showing her ambition and is racking up college credits in the process.

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