Monthly Archives: April 2015

Dual enrollment saves money!

Dual enrollment programs help high school kids get free college credits!

Please watch my video, then read on:

Now here’s where I get to share some other insights, and/or just plain rant.

I’ll admit I was concerned when my 10th grade daughter announced that she wanted to take some dual enrollment classes at the local state college. That meant my little girl would be sitting in classes with real college students, half of whom were working adults taking night courses.

Sounded scary, but I let her do it because I would be driving her there and back until she could drive herself. I didn’t doubt that she could do the work, and that proved true. Thank goodness!

Her big thrill was that she could complete courses in one semester that would have taken two semesters in her high school.

Her second big thrill was that, unlike high school, she wouldn’t be asked by her college professors to make “ridiculous, time-wasting projects” like poster-board maps, plastered with pictures cut out of magazines!

MY big thrill was the realization that she was getting free college credits! WooHoo! Free money toward one of our many state universities, should she decide to stay in our state for college. YAY!

Eventually my daughter gathered almost enough dual enrollment courses that when combined with her AP classes would have produced an Associate’s degree. She would have received this degree from our local state college in the week prior to her own high school graduation. While she did not (for other reasons) complete her Associate’s degree, many high school students before her time have done it. Many more high schoolers will collect their AA’s through dual enrollment in the future.

What a boon to the families of these hard-working, ambitious young students! With two years of college completed, students in our state (and many other states) can transfer right into a 4 year public university and start their remaining two years! The families of these students are NOT on the hook for the cost of those first two years of college education. Ding, ding, ding…we have some winners here!

Now, in my research for this video, I read a lot of good material from many sources on the subject of dual enrollment. But it wasn’t coming together until I stumbled on a wonderful resource. This is the website of The Education Commission of the States, a national organization created in 1965 and funded by the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several territories.

This organization was founded to “track state policy trends, translate academic research, provide unbiased advice, and create opportunities for state leaders to learn from one another”.

Here is the link to the section of ECS that contains a database on dual enrollment:

This information was gathered from all the states and collated by an enthusiastic young woman named Jennifer Dounay Zinth. She has done a fabulous job, and the product is absolutely enlightening. I enjoyed comparing my state’s dual enrollment policies to that of other states. I also liked the State Profiles on this topic that you can access by clicking on a particular state in a map of the U.S.

Using this database allowed me to realize how much work is left to be done on dual enrollment to make it universally available in the U.S.

Thus far, ALMOST NOTHING is standardized, not even WITHIN certain states! A few states, like Florida, have their dual enrollment acts together. But, overall, the picture is pretty sad.

So here is my rant:

Attention all you so-called “Education Leaders” attending the next ECS convention from all your various states: Before you settle down in a comfy lecture hall in the duly appointed city, and before you tuck into that sumptuous luncheon, try to concentrate on this one little request from me:

Fix Dual Enrollment!

Why? We need all educational efforts to point our kids in the right direction with all the right tools for a reasonably good future life. Right?

AND, we also want these efforts not to destroy family finances when it comes time for college.

Dual enrollment, done right, can help…SO JUST FIX IT… please!

How to understand financial aid award letters

Decode College Financial Aid Awards!

Okay, what the heck! Why can’t colleges just be clear about their financial aid offers.

All across the nation, high school seniors are receiving their financial aid award letters from the colleges to which they have been accepted.

Students and parents alike will be overjoyed as they take a first glance at these letters. After all, real professionals have carefully formulated these documents for maximum obfuscation.

Many who receive these well-crafted offers will believe that their top choice college dreams have been fulfilled.

The celebrations will commence. The heady feelings will go on for days. Then, someone may point out a questionable figure in the offer, and the clouds of doubt will move in.

The family will be confused, and as usual it will fall to Mom to interpret the meaning of the cryptic line item.

Mom, the detective, must now spend hours and days on the internet seeking out experts. She will repeatedly call the college or colleges asking questions, the answers for which she has no background to make an informed interpretation.

When, through enormous effort, the bad news is revealed, and it is determined that the dream college is unaffordable, there will be WAILING. And that’s not all…there will also be DOOR SLAMMING. Shall I go on? No, I think you get the picture…

Why, why, why can’t this information be made clear right away. Get the bad news out there and move on.

Do colleges really think that families will somehow make magic money appear? Well, yes. But it will probably be the magic money known as soul-crushing student loan debt.

It’s time for all financial aid award letters to be standardized to help consumers. So far, the only thing out there is the Education Department’s Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. Thankfully, it’s being adopted, albeit slowly, by some correct-thinking colleges.

My hope for the future is that all colleges and universities get on the transparency bandwagon!