Metro Community College has seen a sharp increase in enrollment numbers from the Fremont area for the school’s dual enrollment programming.
The impact of COVID-19 and subsequent directed health measures have played a large role in the program’s growth during the summer, said Todd Hansen, the executive director for Student Affairs at MCC’s Fremont Area Center.
The program has enrolled more than 75 students to take virtual classes for college credit. More than 50 students who have enrolled came from Fremont High School, while other students from Archbishop Bergan Catholic School, North Bend Central Public Schools, Logan View Public Schools and Arlington Public Schools all have enrolled in courses through MCC.
“The increase has been leaps and bounds above other years,” Hansen said.
Hansen decided to advertise MCC’s available courses to schools across the area after realizing that the majority of students would have more free time on their hands this summer due to COVID-19 restrictions.
He thought it would be a prime opportunity to push students to begin taking classes to earn college credit.
MCC’s dual enrollment college credit program allows Nebraska high school students to earn both high school and college credit at a discounted cost.
Rather than paying full price for a summer course, students receive a 50% discount on classes. Once completed, those classes can then be transferred to any college or university that accepts MCC credit.
“Nobody knew what the summer was going to look like for anybody,” Hansen said. “I just felt like it was a great opportunity to promote classes for students who might not otherwise be able or may not be as busy as they usually are during the summer.”
Hansen said this was the school’s first time making a concentrated effort to advertise classes to students during the summer.
“We’ve never promoted classes like we did this summer,” he said.
After seeing the results from this year’s enrollment, Hansen said that approach is likely to change in the coming years.
“The enrollment exceeding my expectations,” he said. “Moving forward, the marketing of summer classes for high school students will be part of our outreach every spring.”
Previously, summer courses could be taught in-person, but that changed due to restrictions enforced to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Now, Hansen said all online courses are taught virtually.
Some of the most popular courses taught during the summer are general education classes. Those classes include introduction to sociology, psychology and music courses.
Hansen said he often recommends general education courses for students who are unsure about what classes to take during the summer because they can lessen a student’s coursework once they enter college.
“Taking classes before you get there is going to save you time and it’s going to save you money,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest positives out of this.”
Hansen said students typically have to take around 16 credit hours a semester in college to graduate in four years. Completing some general education courses before graduating high school can go a long way in lightening that load, he said.
“If you get some of those courses out of the way, you can reduce your load during the semester,” he said.
MCC Enrollment Director Monique Cribbs said getting a jump start on a student’s college education while still in high school is a “wonderful opportunity.”
“Even if it’s just starting with one class to get your feet wet, it can be a great benefit to students upon graduation,” she said in a press release.
Scott Jensen, the executive director of Secondary Education at FPS, said the reduced rate and ability to transfer credits for MCC courses allow students to get a jump start on their college experience.
“During these unprecedented times, the courses allow students to stay engaged in their learning while saving them and their families money,” he said in a press release.
Moving forward, Hansen said he can’t ensure enrollment numbers for summer courses will remain this high, but he said MCC will continue to make efforts to market the courses.
“If kids take classes in the summer and see the value of it, they’re probably going to take classes again next summer,” he said. “It keeps kids engaged in learning and it’s gonna benefit them in the long run.”
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