Dual-enrollment in local high schools a boon to those who participate

Avoyelles Parish students earn college credit while meeting high school requirements

Dual-enrollment for high school students in Avoyelles Parish is offered through LSUA. It began in 2014 when the Avoyelles School Board and then-Superintendent Dwayne Lemoine worked out an agreement to benefit college-bound students. There is a similar agreement with Central LouisianaTechnical Community College in Cottonport for non-college-bound students.

The agreement was simple, generous and removed obstacles that could have prevented some students from realizing a dream of getting a college education. Lemoine said that dual-enrollment provided that all tuition, books and transportation costs were provided by the district at no charge to students.

Erin Paulk, the daughter of Cliff and Heather Paulk and a student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL), took advantage of dual-enrollment when she was a student at Avoyelles Public Charter School. Erin is getting her major in Early Childhood Education and will graduate in December.

“I came to UL with a full semester because of dual-enrollment, but because I changed my major I had an extra semester,” she explained. Still dual-enrollment was helpful to Erin because she was receiving college credit at the same time she was receiving high school credit. Like a double-edged sword, the classes counted on both levels.

“At Charter we had teachers who were certified to teach dual-enrollment classes,” Erin said. That way the students did not have to be bused to LSUA. “I had 18 hours of college credit, two different maths, two different English classes and two history classes.”

Erin said that at Charter the most college credits a student could earn was 24, “but at the public schools it’s unlimited.”

Requirements to enroll include an ACT score of at least 19 and a 2.5 GPA. With such a heavy concentration on the ACT for college-bound students, Erin took her first test when she was a sophomore.Taking it more than once she said her scores went up, then up, then, oops, down, then back up.

“After that I stopped taking it,” she said with a laugh.

Did you know there is such a thing as ACT flash-cards? Well, there is. Erin used them to study and has since passed them on to her brother, Cade, who’s a senior at Avoyelles High.

“Why would someone not do this,” Erin said about dual-enrollment. “It was easier for me because I didn’t have to take freshman courses," she said. "I was immediately in Speech Pathology classes (her first major). I didn’t have to worry about all those other classes.”

Cade will have a different high school experience because in his dual-enrollment at LSUA he will take two courses, Statistics and English Literature.

According to his mother, Heather, “Because of Covid we don’t know if the classes will be online or on campus, and taking three online courses is hard,” Cade explained, “I’d much rather be in a classroom. I comprehend the work better and there’s someone to help you.”

Last year, his first time with dual-enrollment, Cade said “it was a whole new experience because I was in class with older students in their 20s. There was one in their 50s.”

The high schoolers stood out, Cade said, because “we looked younger and the teacher asked who was in dual-enrollment.”

In his spring semester, Cade will take three courses.

“He’ll graduate with between 24-27 credit hours,” Heather commented. “That’s practically a whole college freshman year.”

Cade plans to attend LSU. When he’s not in class, he helps in his father’s landscaping business.

“I like this program because I get a college experience while I’m still in high school and I can complete college faster so I can start working,” Cade said.

For Erin, Cade and their parents dual-enrollment is definitely a win-win.

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