With all the uncertainty surrounding online school, virtual learning, hybrid schedules, and their future college studies, Cape Hatteras Secondary School (CHSS) high school students have one option they can count on right now. All Dare County high school students can start their first year of college while they’re just juniors and seniors in high school. In addition, it is possible for them to enter the university with a junior status right after graduating from high school. Through the dual enrollment program with College of the Albemarle (COA), students can do just this, and best of all, it’s free.
Normally college tuition can be pricey. For example, UNC is $8,980 a year, ECU is $7,238 a year, and N.C. State is $9,101 a year. And of these prices do not include room and board, food, or any other necessities. Taking college classes in high school can help save students and their families thousands of dollars.
High school juniors and seniors, with a GPA of at least 2.8 or who pass the placement tests, have the ability to take college-level classes, which also gives them credit for their corresponding high school classes. The classes can be taken online with the option of selecting classes that hold virtual meetings as well. Taking a college American history class, for example, would also fulfill the high school’s history requirement.
Another bonus for students completing their associate’s degree is that these students have guaranteed admission to one the NCCPA university systems. For those not interested in transferring to a university, College of the Albemarle also offers a Career & Technical Education (CTE) pathway with degrees in such fields as HVAC, Computers, Culinary Arts, Welding and others.
Senior Sara Williams is in her second year of dual enrollment. “What I hoped to gain from College of the Albemarle classes was a college experience, [and] I got to experience what it is like in a college class,” she says. “It helped me decide if college was right for me.”
For many students, the decision of if they want to go to college can be tricky, and when taken seriously, College of the Albemarle can be beneficial in that decision, as it was for Sara.
Other students, such as junior Jennifer Mohnal, are taking College of the Albemarle classes because, “I hope to gain more knowledge at an advanced level, and help prepare myself for what college classes will be like in the future.”
For those who don’t plan on graduating with a transfer degree, or who just want to find a direction of study that interests them, College of the Albemarle offers a variety of courses, programs and diplomas including study in EMT, Law Enforcement, Nursing and more.
For students continuing to university study, the financial benefits cannot be ignored. College of the Albemarle’s Career and College Promise (CCP) allows Dare County students to attend the college for six semesters, potentially earning more than 60 credit hours, at no cost. These two years, with no tuition fees, transfer directly to many universities, and transfer students are guaranteed admission to one of the 15 UNC institutions.
While pursuing dual enrollment, high school students can still participate in all their regular sports and activities. Additionally, as a student at College of the Albemarle, they also have a wide range of extracurricular activities available, such as traveling abroad, clubs, and access to all the college offers.
While the program of study may be rigorous, for students who are university bound and who want to save thousands of dollars on their tuition costs, (and jump ahead in their program of study), the offer sounds almost too good to be true. Thankfully, college guidance counselor Karla Jarvis has the paperwork to prove it.
Some 2020, high school graduates found themselves in limbo regarding what to do about college. Some colleges cancelled in-person learning and those that have live meetings present their own health threats. Going away to school can already be a little scary, but for students considering the move during a pandemic, it is even more terrifying for them and their families. This has left some of these students turning to College of the Albemarle as an interim solution.
2020 Cape Hatteras High School graduate, Lane Stevenson, is one of the graduates who found themselves turning to College of the Albemarle. He was initially on a scholarship to Florida Gulf Coast University. With Covid-19, his plans changed. “I made the decision to begin classes at the College of the Albemarle this fall of 2020. It has turned out to be a great decision for me to make.”
The offer to attend College of the Albemarle, through the Career and College Promise is available to Dare County graduates with the next opportunity for enrollment beginning in January. With so much uncertainty surrounding high schoolers’ education, this is one program that offers a stable solution.