Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ash is our family's newest Rebel; he's taking his first Ole Miss course this semester

    Ash started college this week at Ole Miss. He got his student ID today.
    Okay, he's only taking one class. It's through a dual credit program offered by most Mississippi high schools whereby he can attend one or more college classes and earn both high school and college credit. Being able to actually attend classes at Ole Miss is one of the benefits of living in or near a college town.
    Any high school junior or senior with a 3.0 grade-point-average is eligible to take college courses for dual credit with the permission of his high school. Freshmen and sophomores have a minimum ACT score requirement. Ash retook the ACT in June with hopes of scoring high enough to dual enroll, and just made the cut.
    After his acceptance into the program we got a very welcome surprise. We had expected to pay about $400 in tuition to cover Ash's three-hour college course. When he got his acceptance email he also got a notice that all high school students in the Ole Miss dual credit program receive a tuition scholarship. So his cost to take the college course is limited to the price of the textbook.
    We're certainly grateful to Ole Miss for the help. It's not something that the university is required to do. Some states cover the tuition costs of dual enrollment, but Mississippi isn't one of these. There's not a mention of the scholarships at all on the Ole Miss website; perhaps it's something that the university doesn't want to promise in case there aren't enough funds to offer the free tuition every year.
    I frequently post things about trying to figure out ways to finance college. Dual credit/enrollment and Advanced Placement are the best routes to saving money I know of. If Ash takes two courses this year and four courses in subsequent years he'll have 42 dual-enrollment hours when he graduates. Add in six AP course credits and he's looking at the possibility of starting his freshman year with 60 semester hours. That's almost halfway to graduation with no tuition cost; or housing cost, board cost, or fraternity cost.
    Most college-bound students will have a 3.0 average and be eligible for at least two years of dual credit work. Courses can be taken both in the fall and springs as well as in the summer. For students wanting to save on college costs, dual enrollment is a must. In fact, it's a good deal even if you have to pay tuition out of pocket, as there are no housing, food, or other costs typically associated with college enrollment. Much to our surprise we were told that relatively few students take advantage of dual credit each year. Failure to participate in this program is both money and opportunity down the drain. One important note: While you can dual enroll in a junior college, many universities will not accept all junior college hours. So students need to dual enroll in a four-year college to make their hard work worthwhile.
    I took a pretty active role in helping Ash find a suitable course. He's taking Classical Mythology, a course that is harder than it might sound (I think I dropped it years ago when I saw it was going to require work). The professor teaching it is new to Ole Miss, but her student reviews from her prior university were about as glowing as an instructor or student could wish for. Some students described the instructor as one of the hardest they had had, but also as one of the very best. I thought it important for Ash to have a good-quality instructor for his first college course, and if the course is hard then he'll just have to work hard.
    After two class sessions Ash commented that he really liked the college format. It's just more straightforward and down to business, and the students are quieter and more attentive than middle school or high school students.
    Oxford High School records university grades on a 4.5 scale and AP classes on a 5.0 scale. So if Ash should make an "A" in his class it will go down as a 4.5. Ash is still going to take as many AP classes as he can. They get more of a g.p.a. boost, and Oxford reportedly does a good job with them. So Ash will continue to take nearly a full load at Oxford High until he graduates. He's still a member of the Class of '17, but now he's an Ole Miss student, too.



Justin said...

Did you go through OHS's guidance office or simply Ole Miss? Looked up the info on dual credit on Ole Miss's outreach site, and it differs somewhat from what you've written. Athletics precludes mine from doing this, so I wonder if you can attend during the summer? Just read some posts and good job prepping for the psat. I'll have to ask for some tips for Bryce. Good luck to Ash.

Col. Reb Sez said...

I'm sorry I didn't see your comment. We went through the Oxford High School guidance office. Ash was young, but met the qualifications due to a fairly high ACT score. Most students won't be eligible until they are juniors, but few juniors are taking advantage of this.

You can attend during the summer. You can also attend night classes. Ash in taking a TTh class that meets at 5:30. He's enjoyed it.