More than 160 high school students are taking advantage of Louisiana’s Early Start Program at River Parishes Community College, giving them the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school—and for many of them—without paying a dime.
The Louisiana Board of Regents Early Start Program began in 2008 and allows eligible 11th and 12th grade public high school students to enroll in college courses at participating public or private colleges or universities. This program pays for up to 6 hours of college credit each year per student. Each student gets credit for both college and high school courses. Students must meet general eligibility requirements, course requirements, and have room in their high school schedule to enroll in college-level/degree-credit courses, enrichment/developmental courses or work skills/technical courses. RPCC Admissions Staff offer high school students one-on-one enrollment sessions while also maintaining close contact with high school guidance counselors, making the enrollment process simple and worry free.
Since the Early Start Program’s inception last year, RPCC has seen a steady increase in dual enrollment from the River Parishes. Most dually enrolled students sign up for general education courses, such as math, English, and the sciences. Completing general education courses allows dually enrolled students the freedom to explore career paths more easily once they enter college, because they are able to focus on courses for their majors.
“Dual Enrollment is a wonderful opportunity for high school students dedicated to pursuing a college career—whether at a technical or traditional college—to get a head start on fulfilling those general education requirements,” remarks Allison Vicknair, RPCC’s Dean of Students and Enrollment Management. “It’s also an excellent way for them to become acquainted with college life and the expectations of a college student while still living at home.”
RPCC’s dual enrollment increase is reflected in the college’s overall record enrollment this fall, with a 38% increase from fall 2008—the highest percentage enrollment increase of any college or university in Louisiana. This number also includes cross-enrolled students, a group whose numbers at RPCC spiked to more than 425 this fall. Cross-enrolled students are also enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana University, Nicholls State University or a Louisiana Technical College. Cross-enrolled students can also take general education classes at RPCC while paying RPCC’s inexpensive tuition. Furthermore, all RPCC students can take courses at any of those institutions for credit, which allows them to familiarize themselves with other schools’ programs and departments should they decide to transfer.
“RPCC is very proud that we are able to be an accessible resource to high schools, universities and technical colleges in the River Parishes,” explains Dr. Bill Martin, RPCC’s Executive Vice Chancellor. “We look forward to continuing this partnership in order to maximize educational and workforce opportunities for citizens in our region.”
Interested individuals can find out more about the Early Start/Dual Enrollment Program and its availability by perusing the Board of Regents website, contacting high school guidance counselors or contacting RPCC directly. The college can also offer them information about cross-enrollment and a host of other educational services.