A jump start to college

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Juan Gallegos was a junior in high school when he decided to attend College of DuPage (COD) after graduation to study culinary arts. Wanting to get a jump start on his college journey, he enrolled in two COD dual-credit courses offered at his high school, culinary arts and accounting.

“Entering college with six credits under my belt decreased the time it took me to complete my degree,” he said. “I also saved nearly $1,000 in course and textbook fees because dual-credit classes are offered at no-cost.”

Serving more than two dozen high schools in DuPage County in Illinois, COD’s dual-credit program allows students like Gallegos to enroll in selected courses at their high schools for which they receive both college credit and high school credit. Classes are taught at partner high schools during the regular school day by high school teachers who also are approved as dual-credit instructors by COD. The curriculum for each class is approved by the college and is equivalent to the same course offered on campus.

Pathway to a career

For James Guerrier, a COD dual-credit course led him on a path to his current career as a human resources consultant.

“I had always been interested in business administration, but those types of classes weren’t offered as part of the high school curriculum,” he said. “The dual-credit program allowed me to explore a field I was interested in, further solidifying my decision to study business in college.”

Guerrier encourages high school students to take advantage of the program not only because of the time and cost savings, but because it allows you to explore areas of study you might not be exposed to in high school.

“By participating in the program, students have an opportunity to explore a variety of in-demand degree and career pathways while earning college credits” he said. “It’s a true win-win, and it’s an opportunity that can lead to bigger opportunities down the line like it did for me.” 

Enhanced postsecondary readiness

According to research from the Community College Research Center, students who take college courses while in high school are more likely to go on to higher education and take less time to graduate than their counterparts who do not.

“When a student successfully completes a dual credit course, their mindset changes,” said COD President Brian Caputo. “They see that they can do college level coursework — that they are college material. Dual credit puts students on a pathway to success.”

For Gallegos, dual-credit courses gave him confidence that he could succeed in college.

“Once I knew I could commit myself to my studies, I knew I could do it in the long run,” he said.

Expanded dual-credit partnerships

Last fall, COD signed a memorandum of understanding with local high school administrators that provides students at four local high schools access to dual-credit opportunities.

The agreement strengthens the ties between COD and high schools and educational leaders in the community, while providing students crucial experience with which to enter college, said Lisa Haegele, COD’s manager of dual credit/dual enrollment.

“This memorandum — the first of its kind between the college and a local high school district — demonstrates our commitment to student success and service to the larger COD community,” she said. “The agreement not only enhances and strengthens the college’s dual-credit program, it also expands dual-credit opportunities for students at Glenbard high schools.”

Dual-credit course offerings

Students participating in dual credit in Illinois can choose from a broad range of general education classes such as anatomy and physiology, earth science, English, foreign languages, speech and math, as well as career and technical education classes, including architecture, automotive technology, computer and information systems, cosmetology, education, health sciences, horticulture, motion picture/television and welding.

As part of the Illinois Articulation Initiative, the accredited classes are transferable for college credit to more than 100 participating colleges and universities in Illinois.

About the Author

Angela Mennecke
is a media relations specialist at College of DuPage in Illinois.