Dual Enrollment Classes Gaining Popularity in Miami-Dade

It's not a new concept, getting college credit for a high school class, but dual enrollment classes are exploding in popularity, especially in Miami-Dade County.

"Come to school prepared to work every day," said Booker T. Washington High School teacher Ashawnte Smathers-West.

The message is strong, and the kids are up to the challenge: They're taking college English, while they're in high school.

"Because when you graduate from Booker T. Washington High School, when you go on to that next phase, then guess what? You will be more than prepared," Smathers-West continued.

Most public high schools have dual enrollment classes. In Miami-Dade, they're offered through a partnership between FIU and the school district, which began five years ago.

"Actually, two thirds of all high school students in the State of Florida that do dual enrollment, do so here in South Florida between Miami-Dade Schools and FIU," explained Dr. Saif Ishoof, FIU Vice President of Engagement.

Since 2010, 14,000 Miami-Dade students have taken advantage of getting college credit for free in high school, in small classes, potentially a savings windfall.

"Last year, I had quite a few of my students who had over 24 dual enrollments and they themselves entered college this year as sophomores," said Booker T. Washington Principal William Artistide.

Not only do the students pickup a college credit in English in the class, they also pickup a great deal of knowledge about how to apply for college, to make their dreams a reality.

"Initially, my office hours were to help students with coursework, but what it turned into was the opportunity to help them with the college applications, scholarships, things of that nature," Smathers-West explained.

The students see dual enrollment as college prep 101.

"It's more about getting ready for college," said student Sharkira Walden.

"It also gives you college feeling, you know, how to turn your work in on time. Have to be in on time," Malike St. Louis added.

FIU said it's worth the $17 million the university has invested in the program. Many of the students end up enrolling at FIU, and arrive on campus ready to hit the ground running.

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