New program lets students take college courses at high school

ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - Starting this year, some Jackson County students can take college courses without having to set foot on a college campus. St. Martin High is offering college classes at the high school. The school held a special registration Monday for the new dual-credit program.

Just a week before school starts and some students at St. Martin High school are trying to rearrange their class schedules. That's because late last week, the school announced a new dual-credit program that allows students to take three college courses right on their high school campus.

"For our kids to be competitive with other students, we feel like this will give them a leg up to be successful in college by experiencing it on a turf where they feel comfortable. They're familiar with the teachers here," said St. Martin High Principal Dina Holland.

The school district signed an Articulation Agreement with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in late May. To be eligible for the program, students must have earned 14 credits in their core classes at the high school and have a 3.0 GPA, or they've scored a 30 on their ACT. That means students can start taking college courses in the second semester of their sophomore year.

Madi Pullens is a junior and she signed up for College Algebra and Art Appreciation.

"I'm really excited, because that means that hopefully, I can graduate early and start my career early," said Pullens. "I know I can handle the classes, because they're going to be similar to AP (Advanced Placement) course work."

The third college course is English Comp I.  Students who pass each class can earn three semester hours of college credit, plus one AP high school credit.  And there are no worries about college tuition.

"There's a registration fee per semester of $50, payable to MGCCC. Then there's just a book rental of $30 per course. So our students have the opportunity to pay three college courses throughout this year for $170. That is a bargain no matter where you go," said Holland.

"Nearly $300 that you're saving per class, so my parents definitely enjoy that," said Pullens.

Next year, students can save even more money when the school adds two more courses: College Biology and American Government.

"Those credits they can earn while they're still in high school will save their parents money down the road, plus students have a jump start on their degree. So we're excited about that," said Dr. Barry Amacker, Jackson County Schools Superintendent.

High school teachers must also meet certain qualifications in order to teach the college courses and they must be approved by MGCCC. Holland said two of the teachers are currently teaching at MGCCC.

Next year, the on-campus dual-credit program will begin at Vancleave High and East Central High in Jackson County. According to MGCCC, a similar program is being offered at four other South Mississippi schools districts: Gulfport High School, George County High School, Long Beach High School, and Pass Christian High School.

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