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Dual Enrollment Gives Students a “JumpStart” on College

March 8th, 2023

OMHS students enrolled in the JumpStart program.

There are many paths HCPSS students can take to approach their high school academic career. Ultimately, all paths lead to a high school diploma, however, one option that gives students a leg up on their journey to college is dual enrollment.

For students who plan to attend college—or even for students who are just thinking about it—HCPSS’ JumpStart Dual Enrollment program is a way to earn college credits while still in high school. JumpStart is a partnership between HCPSS and Howard Community College (HCC) that expands options for high school students to gain college credits, explore possible careers and even earn an associate degree.

In Episode 3 of the “Inside HCPSS” podcast, Superintendent Martirano speaks with Dual Enrollment Coordinator LaRee Siddiqui and River Hill High School teacher Sarah Tokar about HCPSS’ dual enrollment program.

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The JumpStart partnership started in 2018 and now, with adjustments made by the Maryland State Department of Education in October 2022 to Maryland’s Blueprint for the Future legislation, dual enrollment is now offered at no cost to students.

“JumpStart Dual Enrollment is a great option for students to enhance and supplement their high school learning,” says LaRee Siddiqui, JumpStart coordinator. “Students can take advantage of the unique opportunities that HCC offers and gain an authentic college experience in the process.”

Within JumpStart, students have options.

High school students can choose to take a class for college credit at their own school. These high school-based classes are taught by HCPSS faculty who are accredited by HCC. Unlike a semester-long HCC-based course, the high school-based courses take place over the entire school year, allowing teachers to dive deeper into the materials over a longer period of time. The expectations are still the same, with students taking midterms, finals and completing term papers, but this gives students the opportunity to earn college credit in a familiar environment.

WLHS student Johanna Shin.

“The JumpStart program is giving me my first in-depth college experience in a comfortable high school environment,” says Johanna Shin, a student at Wilde Lake High School (WLHS).

HCPSS juniors and seniors who want a college campus-based experience can enroll in semester-long classes held at HCC. This experience can be more rigorous—the length of the course is condensed and much of the student’s work takes place outside of the classroom. Juniors and seniors in a structured program may have the option to enroll at HCC as a full-time student.

OMHS student Fisayo Sule.

“JumpStart has helped me get a head start in my life after high school, starting from freshman year at Oakland Mills. I have been able to get college credits every year in high school and will get to go to the HCC campus next year to take most of my classes,” says Oakland Mills High School (OMHS) student Fisayo Sule.

For students who are committed to earning even more college credit, there are options for rising ninth and/or 10th grade students to participate in a more structured program and earn 30–60 college credits and an Associate of Arts (AA) degree.

Regardless of where students choose to take a dual enrollment course, they must register as an HCC student and, as such, gain access to HCC’s campus-based resources, which include free tutoring in the course content area, access to writing and math labs, athletic facilities, and more.

Students considering taking courses for college credit should always start by having a conversation with their families and school counselor to determine which, if any, option is best for them.

“My goal is to help each student create a plan that best fits their needs. I love seeing students who are nervous about college take a dual enrollment course and see that they [can] be successful at the college level,” says Donna Ueckermann, school counselor at OMHS. “This opportunity has afforded many students the ability to not only get a head start on college credits but help them learn valuable organization, time management and study skills to help them be successful in the future.”

While some dual enrollment students have a clear vision of what their future looks like, JumpStart is still an option for those who don’t. Taking dual enrollment classes at HCC is a great way to dip a toe into the college while still having the supportive environment offered by HCPSS. Students do not need to be certain they’ll attend college after high school either.

OMHS student Masud Mustafa.

Masud Mustefa, a student at OMHS says, “JumpStart is really helpful to me because it helps prepare me for college while in high school. It shows me what college classes are like and gives me resources to help me through them.”

Students who do plan to attend college after high school do not need to know what they’ll major in before registering for dual enrollment. Many students use dual enrollment to tackle General Education requirements. Other students use HCC classes to explore a subject they are passionate about or are considering pursuing as a major to see if it’s the right fit for them.

WLHS student Laurel Sands.

WLHS student Laurel Sands says, “JumpStart courses give me the opportunity to explore my passions in computer science. The online classes I’ve taken have had wonderful teachers that were very willing to work with me.”

From the start, HCPSS and HCC have staff and advisors available to help guide every student along the right path. In high schools, students can turn to their school counselors. On HCC’s campus, the college has staff dedicated to supporting HCPSS students.

With HCC fall registration opening on March 21, students should reach out to their counselor, if they haven’t already, to start the conversation about dual enrollment and determine if these options are right for them. All HCPSS high schools are hosting application sessions with virtual sessions being held monthly through May to help students and families register.

“As students consider dual enrollment, they need to keep in mind that they are applying to college and signing up for the whole experience—college-level content, work and expectations,” says Siddiqui. “And they should be realistic and intentional about their choices. But in the end, students can receive college credit and no matter where their path takes them after high school, they will benefit from this opportunity.”

More information about the JumpStart Dual Enrollment program, including how to register, is available online. Get more insight into dual enrollment by listening to episode 3 of the Inside HCPSS podcast where Siddiqui and River Hill High School teacher Sarah Tokar join HCPSS Superintendent Michael Martirano to discuss the JumpStart program and how it benefits students.