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Doing Double Duty, Dual enrollment students finding success in college and life

Written by John Clayton
Published in Sandhills Telephone Cooperative's ConNEXTion Magazine March/April 2020

While getting through high school is demanding, some students add to the challenge by participating in Northeastern Technical College's dual enrollment program. More than 1,000 students in Chesterfield, Marlboro and Dillon counties are getting a head start on college while still in high school.

"When I first got here in 2016, we had about 100-120 students in our dual enrolment program. But by the end of May, we will have served 1,009 students," says NETC President Kyle Wagner. "High-speed internet has paved the way for that success. It's been delivered to all the high schools we service, as well as the private schools we work with."

Some dual enrollment students complete coursework while physically at their respective high schools, taking advantage of virtual classrooms to earn college credits. Others attend traditional classes at NETC's campuses.

Wagner says federally expanded Pell grant and assistance programs allow more high school students to afford the dual enrollment program, a major factor in increased participation.

The dual enrollment program launched 2016 Chesterfield High School graduate Kayla Gibson on an adventure that landed her in Alaska. This past June, Christopher Hyatt became the first Marlboro County High School student to graduate with both a high school diploma and an NETC associate degree at the same time. He enrolled this past fall at Clemson University as a junior.

Not surprisingly, Hyatt – who is attending Clemson's College of Engineering, Computing and Science – has done the math. By completing his associate degree through NETC over the course of his career at Marlboro County High, Hyatt estimates that he saved nearly $50,000.

A program through the South Carolina Education Lottery and federal funding kept Hyatt worry- and debt-free. "I knew my credits would transfer pretty much anywhere in the state," says Hyatt, who balanced academics from both high school and NETC with football.

In an article on the NETC website, Hyatt says, "The experience has challenged me to strive for better things and taught me that I have to work harder and smarter to get where I want to be in life."

A statewide agreement among state-supported schools guaranteed his credits would transfer. Hyatt chose Clemson over Coastal Carolina University and the College of Charleston and he says he was well-prepared for a junior-level course load at one of the nation's better computer science programs. "The different classes I'm taking are really hard," he says. "But I feel like I was really prepared."

Hyatt is considering pursuing a graduate degree after he receives his bachelor's in 2021. After that, he will move on to his career goals. "I want to go into cybersecurity and own my own security firm," he says.

Like Hyatt, Gibson arrived for her first year as a full-time college student as a junior. Two years later, she was a College of Charleston graduate with her sights set on pharmacy school at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. She is now living and working in Nome, Alaska, as a pharmacist with the Indian Health Service.

Her completion of NETC's dual enrollment program while at Chesterfield High School saved her money and time, but Gibson says it also helped her beyond the classroom. "It probably got me more focused," she says. "I know a lot of people who get to that first year of college, and they're a little shocked transitioning from high school. Since I started taking college courses in high school, it wasn't quite as much of a culture shock and overwhelming. It definitely helped me with time management."

And time was important to Gibson, who graduated College of Charleston at 20 and then finished pharmacy school at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. "I knew I wanted to get going. I wanted to get ahead," Gibson says of her choice to participate in the dual enrollment program. "But I don't think I realized it would be so beneficial. "

She believes anyone interested in a head start in college should consider the dual enrollment program through NETC. "You're going to be in the same place as someone who went all four years to that school," Gibson says. "But, you're going to be in less debt, so you can have that out of the way, and you can move forward to other things."

When it came time for Gibson to choose a spot for her required nonclinical rotation, she says she had simple criteria: "I wanted to go see places, and I wanted to go somewhere that has free housing."

She landed in Nome and then Montana, doing her nonclinical rotation with the Indian Health Service in both spots. When a job came open in Nome – 3,943 miles from Chesterfield – she took it. The Indian Health Service provides direct medical and public health services to Native American tribes and indigenous Alaskan people. Gibson says the people of Nome and the 11 villages surrounding it are served by her office, often by airplanes that fly medicines into those villages.

It is open to high school students who:
• are at least 16 and are juniors or seniors
• are in good standing and doing well in high school classes.
• have permission from their high school principal.
• have almost finished the high school curriculum and passed the exit exam.
• are ready for college-level work and have extra time in their schedules.

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  • Kayla Gibson, Dual Credit Student:

    Taking classes at Northeastern Technical College while in high school has helped prepare me for the College of Charleston by earning credits that I will need for my major. I will be entering the College of... Read More about Kayla

  • Cynthia Hulon, Educational Mentor:

    I received individualized attention from my instructors at Northeastern Technical College when I was going through the business program. NETC's faculty and staff members are very friendly and accommodating, and they really care about their students.... Read More about Cynthia

  • Anissa Keith, NETC Alumna:

    Going to Northeastern Technical College allowed me to work a full-time job, be at home with my child and live in my community. At NETC, you are more than just a number in a classroom. The... Read More about Anissa

  • Jonathan Rivers, Farmer:

    Going to NETC, which is exactly 17 miles from my home, was convenient. I could live at home and go to school, which was a lot more affordable for me than going off to college elsewhere.... Read More about Jonathan

  • Santrice Hailey, NETC Alumna:

    Northeastern Technical College was my pathway to a better life. NETC was directly involved in getting me where I am today and having the job that I am so passionate about.... Read More about Santrice

  • Tony Knight, Printer of T-Riffic Promotions:

    NETC was my pathway to a broad range of knowledge that has allowed me to pursue my dream of owning my own business. NETC is a great starting point for people who are undecided about their... Read More about Tony

  • Trevor Gilchrist, Former Dual Credit Student:

    Being a part of the Dual Enrollment program at NETC allowed me to not only graduate in four years from college, but also see the world. By gaining a head start in my college career through... Read More about Trevor

  • Hester Ellerbe, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor:

    Life is a journey, and NETC was my starting point on my pathway to a rewarding career in social work. NETC can be a starting point for many who are ready to start pushing for an... Read More about Hester

  • Larry McNeil, Chief of Police:

    The education I received at Northeastern Technical College was my pathway to a fulfilling, exciting and successful career in law enforcement. Had I not started at NETC, I would never have achieved my position as chief.... Read More about Larry

  • Alanda LeGrand, Cosmetology instructor:

    I tell my students all the time that they need to pursue an associate degree and not just rely on the cosmetology certificate. A two-year degree can be their pathway to another job if they do... Read More about Alanda

  • Chad Hood of Lineman:

    If you live in Chesterfield, Marlboro or Dillon counties and you're having a hard time finding work, there's no reason not to start you­r education at Northeastern Technical College.... Read More about Chad

  • Caroline Sylvia, Former Dual Credit Student:

    I am thankful for the opportunity I had to take dual credit classes at NETC. Not only did they help me prepare for college level course work and scheduling, the college credits I earned at NETC... Read More about Caroline

  • Frank Ponce, Movie Director:

    I have a passion to create. I'm not just doing this because of the money, the fame or power. It is truly my passion. I am an artist, and I will always create to make people... Read More about Frank

  • Jarrett Davis, Electronics student:

    By enrolling in the Industrial Electronics program at NETC, I am pursuing the dream I’ve had for a long time of becoming an electrician. Going to school at NETC and learning these advanced skills has been... Read More about Jarrett

  • Emily Williams, NETC Alumna:

    I knew I wanted to study law, and Northeastern Technical College offered the pathway to becoming a legal office assistant. The smaller classes and the support services offered by NETC really met my needs and allowed... Read More about Emily

  • Josh Thomas, INA Apprentice:

    NETC is my pathway to a college degree and a better life. It has helped me define my career plans and pursue a job in machine tool technology where I can use my problem solving skills.... Read More about Josh

  • Tommy Pegues, Registered Nurse:

    Northeastern Technical College was close to home and my job, and it was affordable. It was my starting place. With this nursing degree from NETC, I can branch out and go anywhere.... Read More about Tommy

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