Popularity of dual credit and AP courses grows in Indiana

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education says nearly 2/3 of Hoosier students are now taking college-level courses in high school, and that's happening right here in the Wabash Valley.

Posted: Jan 24, 2019 6:10 PM

CAYUGA, Ind. (WTHI) - Parents always want success for their children, and especially in the world of education. Many students are starting to accomplish some big goals while they're still in high school.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education says nearly 2/3 of Hoosier students are now taking college-level courses in high school, and that's happening right here in the Wabash Valley. South Vermillion Senior Josh Alger can't get enough dual credit courses.

A student at North Vermillion High School turning on the Fanuc robotic arm. (WTHI Photo, Lacey Clifton)

Alger explains, "I do wish they offered more engineering classes and others of the sort that you would be like, say you'd be going to for college. If I could, I would've taken like 3 more college, dual credit courses for my career."

Alger wants to be a mechanical engineer after graduation. He's already taken and is taking several advanced placements and dual credit courses while in high school.

He says, "I've learned more from that then most of the basic common core from our high school. And, I think it's just great to have that knowledge before you exit high school."

Alger is in one dual credit course taught by JoAnn Spurr, a Wabash River Career and Technical Education Robotics and Automation Teacher. The WRCTE is a partnership of many area schools that each host some courses and students. Spurr says dual credit courses like hers have a lot to offer.

She explains, "A lot of times career and tech ed. is taken as industrial arts type classes, welding that sort of thing, so kids who are academic don't always see the programs like mine that are academic and hands on. So we learn academic principles but we do it almost completely hands on."

One student who's a fan of that learning style is South Vermillion Junior, Otto Richardson.

Richardson shares, "It's great to me because a lot of schools don't offer that anymore, and I think that we need more classes like these where you learn more life skills rather than book work."

Both Richardson and Alger have connected in Spurr's course. And, Alger says thanks to dual credit courses, the new relationships keep coming.

Alger says, "Honestly, it helped me for just communication skills really. I was like antisocial for the first two years, and like a lot of these classes forced you to communicate with other people and made me way better at it. Granted, I still have some flaws with it, but it's really helped the way I talk and speak with people."

Besides these courses giving students a leg up academically, it's also going to help them save in the long-run. The Indiana Commission of Higher Education says that by taking dual credit courses, Hoosier students can save roughly $69 million dollars.

The Higher Ed Commission goes on to say the amount of Hoosier students earning college credit in high school has gone up by 15 percent over the last four years.

The Commission says there are many benefits for students. This includes providing an opportunity for low-income students to get college credit for regular high school fees. The group has also found dual credit earners are more likely to graduate on time or early.

But, many people can agree that besides the academic leg up, cash is king. Spurr says the opportunity to save dual credit families money, is one of the biggest advantages.

She explains, "Student loan debt is out of control, so any amount of money these kids can save is going to set them years down the road ahead of the game. They can get out of school quicker. They can complete higher degrees if they want to."

If you're interested in seeing more of the data from the Indiana Commission of Higher Education, click here.

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