Some 1,173 high school students plan to get an early jump on college this semester by taking advantage of Blinn College’s Academic Dual Credit Program. The program allows students to take college courses both for high school and collegiate credit. Beginning in the summer following their sophomore year, high school students may take as many as two dual-credit courses each semester.
Dual credit students receive a reduced rate on tuition and fees, saving time and money as they progress toward a college degree. Dual credit residents of Washington County, where Blinn’s tax base is generated, have their tuition and fees are currently waived.
Blinn has agreements with 44 area high schools, inviting those students to attend one of Blinn’s four campuses in Brenham, Bryan, Schulenburg and Sealy, or in some cases sending Blinn instructors to the high schools. Blinn also offers high school students the opportunity to participate in Blinn classes through interactive video conferencing at their high school or through an online class.
“We do things a variety of different ways and have very, very talented people teaching for us,” said Cathy Stuckert, director of Blinn’s academic dual credit program. “We build the online class into a school day so if they are taking a three-hour credit class, they are required to be in the high school computer lab for a minimum of three hours per week working on their class. They are monitored, and we are helping them develop the skills to be successful in an online environment.”
Sam Bell, the superintendent of Brenham Independent School District, praised Blinn’s dual credit program at the College’s December board of trustees meeting. Brenham High School will have 191 students enrolled in Blinn dual credit classes this semester.
“On behalf of Brenham ISD I would like to thank Blinn College, Cathy, (District President) Harold Nolte and the Blinn College staff for the outstanding job they do in providing dual-credit courses to our students,” Bell said. “Brenham High School and Blinn College do an outstanding job of working together to meet the needs of our dual-credit students. I’ve only heard positive comments from our students and parents about the dual-credit program, the Blinn staff and the way we work together in that program.”
Stuckert warned that Blinn’s dual credit classes aren’t for everyone. College classes are more demanding than the traditional high school coursework, and failure in an academic dual credit course could impact the student’s high school graduation. Prior to being accepted for dual credit, students must have a “B” average, or better, in their high school academic classes. They must also meet the appropriate college readiness test scores and receive written permission from their high school principal. Blinn recommends that students study at least six hours per week for each class.
“They really have to handle the rigor and the independence that is required to be successful in a college class,” Stuckert said. “The state of Texas says a class taken for dual credit must go beyond the rigor of a typical high school class. It’s written into the rules that it has to be a challenging class and not everyone can handle it, particularly if the student is heavily involved in extracurricular activities. They must have time to devote to their college class.”
Blinn boasts one of the state’s highest percentages of students who graduate from leading Texas four-year institutions.