Kamya Mayes is a senior at Model High School, and she has an intense test coming up. It has 170 questions, and she’s a little nervous about it.
“If I pass, then I’ll have my certificate to be a medical assistant,” she said.
Kamya is 18 years old. Most people don’t become certified medical assistants until they’re out of high school, but this is possible because of a dual enrollment program at the Floyd County College and Career Academy. There she is able to receive college credit and may even allow her to graduate college early.
“It’s helped me out with getting the basic classes that I need out of the way,” she said. With this, Mayes will likely save money when she decides to go to college. If she chooses to attend a school like Georgia State University, could save close to $3,000 per college course.
Both Floyd County and Rome City Schools have seen a sharp increase in students taking advantage of the Dual Enrollment program.
There are over 400 students who are taking dual enrollment courses in the county school system. In the city schools there was a drastic increase in dual enrollment numbers from 118 students in 2019 to a projected 252 students in 2020. Superintendents for both the city and county have expressed excitement for the future of dual enrollment.
Right now, the possibilities in dual enrollment are endless. Some students in Floyd County even have the opportunity to attend college full time and live on campus — room and board on their own dime. Others have even gathered enough credits to graduate with an associate degree.
Recently, there have been attempts in the state legislature to cut funding to dual enrollment.
In Georgia’s last legislative session, Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, drew up a bill (House Bill 444) that would have limited state funding to dual enrollment. Part of that included limiting the number of credits to just 30 hours and only allowing students to take dual enrollment at college campuses.
According to Alyson Lansdell, dual enrollment coordinator for Floyd County Schools, most courses are taught on high school campuses, including the College and Career Academy.
“It restricted who could teach,” she said of HB 444. Many teachers in the county system are certified to teach by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which permits them to teach college level courses.
“We’re in a pretty good situation,” said John Parker, assistant superintendent for Floyd County Schools. “But when you start restricting things, it’s going to make it difficult if you’re in South Georgia or somewhere more remote where you don’t have staff that qualify as adjunct either.”
“(The bill) was also trying to tap into HOPE funds, and there was a question of the legalities of that,” said Lansdell. Tapping into HOPE funds for dual enrollment was one of the bigger concerns that dual enrollment advocates had regarding HB 444. According to FCS, parents and students have saved over $1 million collectively with the dual enrollment program since credits can transfer to any college that is part of the University of Georgia System.
HB 444 was ultimately tabled after it passed out of the Senate Higher Education committee in the by a 5-2 vote. Lansdell was among a group of teachers and professionals who showed up to the Capitol to raise her voice in regard to the bill. They were also at the Capitol when the bill was tabled.
Tabling the bill did not end talks of cuts to dual enrollment. In fact, Lansdell said that a new bill is supposed to be in the legislative session in January. They’re anticipating cuts that might affect students who choose to take both a technical pathway and an academic pathway.
What about students who are technical and academic?
For students like Dylan Diprima, who is part of the engineering pathway and the economics pathway, he might have tough choices to face.
“The kids that are doing both, that’s where we would get into trouble,” said Lansdell.
Technical pathways include subjects like welding, criminal justice and engineering. Here, instead of earning credits that will go toward a bachelor’s degree, students can earn certificates through Georgia Northwestern Technical College. With a cap, Dylan would have to choose whether to complete the engineering certificate or continue to gather credits to save money for college.
“I would probably pick engineering,” he said. “I get more out of it. Even though engineering wouldn’t transfer over, I would get more personal skills out of that than in (economics).”
Lansdell is at a crossroads, too, because she isn’t sure how she would advise students to choose. For Dylan, she said she would probably encourage him to finish his dual enrollment courses.
“The best of both worlds is ideal,” Lansdell said. “But I would advise the child to air on the classes that would transfer where they’ll ultimately end up.”
Another issue that came about in HB 444, which school officials are anticipating to be part of a different dual enrollment bill, involves summer classes. Right now, those are paid for with state funding. But in April, when the bill was going through the motions to be passed, Kamya was not sure how she was going to pay for her summer classes had it become law.
Ever since the bill was tabled, Landsell said she has had many meetings with public officials. In October, state officials like Sen. Lindsey Tippins and Ian Caraway, who serves as the policy adviser for the governor’s office came to meet and discuss the importance of dual enrollment.
“I’m glad that there are questions,” said Lansdell. “Before, nobody was asking questions.