By Tiffany King
The Dual Enrollment program at the College of Coastal Georgia does more than help high school students earn college credit. At Coastal Georgia, faculty and staff strive to provide a quality college experience that prepares high schoolers for higher education.
Three students enrolled in Coastal Georgia's Dual Enrollment program, Morgan Dunn, Bailey Harvey, and Hailey Wilkerson will transition this fall from Dual Enrollment to full-time college students at Coastal Georgia to pursue careers in nursing.
College of Coastal Georgia Dual Enrollment students (left to right) Hailey Wilkerson, Morgan Dunn, and Bailey Harvey will officially become Mariners in the fall and will each major in nursing.
Dunn, 17, is a senior at Brunswick High School. When considering participation in the Dual Enrollment program at the College, the thought of being able to earn college credit for free and have it count towards high school graduation really appealed to her. She also liked having the assurance of earning credit, compared to Advance Placement courses where students have to achieve a certain score on an exam to earn credit. Dunn said her mother also participated in a Dual Enrollment program and she decided to take advantage of the same opportunity. At first, Dunn enrolled in an English class and ended her high school career by having all of her classes at the College during her final semester. Although she spends most of her day on campus, Dunn still finds time to participate in high school activities, such as attending football games, joining clubs, and going to dances.
Transitioning into college courses wasn't easy.
"I remember having to teach myself how to study, especially for anatomy, physiology, and microbiology," Dunn said. "I remember thinking how high school work is easier. It was real eye-opener for me."
Dunn will start the 2019 fall semester as an incoming junior thanks to all of the credit hours she earned through Dual Enrollment. She has been accepted into the nursing program and is "super excited" to pursue a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing. After earning her degree, she plans to work for a few years then attend graduate school to become a nurse practitioner in pediatric oncology.
"To be a nurse practitioner, you need a master's degree, which is another reason that staying at Coastal for undergrad—because it's affordable and I'll have to pay a lot for graduate school," she said.
Dunn will earn an associate degree this May before graduating from high school.
Dunn is also enjoying the connections she's made with faculty and other college students.
"Honestly, sitting in the library and studying with friends from class, makes me feel like a college student—not just a high schooler. We'll go in there, sit and talk, or just study, "Dunn said. "Blending in with the college students is what I've been enjoying the most."
She's also connected with Dr. Lydia Watkins, interim dean of Nursing and Health Sciences and associate professor of nursing, who has been advising Dunn on what classes to take.
"She's introduced me to some of the professors in the nursing program, so they know my face, instead of going to another school where I'll be the newbie. I have all these connections and support here. It's pretty exciting," Dunn said.
Harvey, 18, is looking forward to graduating this May from Glynn Academy and is on track to earning an associate degree.
She wanted to take Dual Enrollment courses to learn how it compared to AP classes. In her experience, she found that college classes push students to take more initiative and learn at their own pace.
What Harvey appreciates the most is the College's small campus.
"Once you meet a few people you see them all the time—so it's like family," she said.
Her own family is very supportive of her decision to do Dual Enrollment, especially her mother.
"I come from a single-parent home, so my mom loves it," Harvey said. "In order for her to go to college she joined the Navy. For me to go straight to College from high school is awesome."
Harvey feels very prepared for higher education. Through Dual Enrollment she learned how to study and motivate herself. She advises others, including her younger sister who starts high school in the fall, to consider Dual Enrollment.
"I always tell her to do it even if you're nervous. Anything you can do towards your degree is going to help," Harvey said. "You may not think about the money aspect now but when you're on your own, it's going to be hard to pay for classes. It's best to take them while they're free and the staff will help you sign up for classes."
Harvey has also been accepted into the nursing program. Her career plans include becoming a family nurse practitioner or going into the emergency medicine field. She hopes to stay in Georgia where it's warm and near the beach.
It's Worth It
Wilkerson, 18, is a senior at Brunswick High School. She's taking one course at her high school—economics—mostly to spend time with friends, and takes the remainder of her classes at the College. She will be considered a junior when she comes to campus in the fall.
She participated in Dual Enrollment with the encouragement of her parents, who appreciated the opportunity for students to earn college credit for free.
"When I save money, they save money, and the all-around experience has really been great," she said.
Wilkerson's career goal is to become a neonatal intensive care nurse, a career that would marry her love of children with her desire to help others. She plans to stay at Coastal to earn her associate degree, then transfer to either Santa Fe College in Florida or the University of Florida.
What Wilkerson is enjoying the most is the campus environment.
"Being around older, more mature people and having that experience of being in college beforehand gives you a sense of what it will be like. People might say, 'You're missing out on your high school experience' but I think it's worth it. I've been able to participate in a lot of the things I wanted to do in high school," Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson talked of having a difficult time in her anatomy and physiology course, but said her professor, James Carpenter, is very encouraging. She described Carpenter and the supplemental instructors for the classes as "very helpful."
She advises her peers to do Dual Enrollment even if they're worried about the rigor of the curriculum.
"If you think you can't do it, there's always help," Wilkerson said. "The ATTIC (Academic Tutoring and Instruction Center) has tutors, supplemental instructors are there to help, and the professors are approachable. They take note of your effort and will help you."
Helping to Find Your Way
Dual Enrollment gives students an early start on the path to their future careers.
"If you're a student and you don't know what you want to do, take some of these classes now that can help you decide. It won't cause you to fall behind versus waiting to do it in college," Dunn said. "For example, you won't be a whole semester behind because of a course that won't count towards your business degree. It's easier to find your path now."
Dual Enrollment at the College
The Dual Enrollment program at the College of Coastal Georgia is a program designed for exceptional high school students. Once approved by high school officials and guardians, students can enroll in as few as one or as many as a full semester's worth of classes. When satisfactorily completed, such courses will count both toward high school graduation and college credit. Tuition for this program is funded by State revenues. To learn more about dual enrollment, contact Shane Apps at firstname.lastname@example.org.