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PSTCC offers dual enrollment

When Brittany Blum was in high school, she wanted to be a dancer, so she signed up to take Dual Enrollment courses at Pellissippi State Technical Community College to get a jump-start on college.

Dual enrollment allows qualified high school juniors and seniors to take college-level courses.

Natasha Blum Brittany’s, mother, said, “Initially Brittany wanted to get a head-start and get through college quickly, because she wanted to be a dancer and those careers are short-lived.”

Once she became involved in the Dual Enrollment program, though, Brittany’s academic goals grew loftier. Now she is finishing her first year as a premed student at The University of Tennessee.

Natasha said, “When she took a biology course at Pellissippi State she said, ‘I really like this. I like academics, and I think I might want to be a doctor.’ It changed her whole world. I think [Dual Enrollment] is a great experience for kids.”

And thanks to taking several courses through the program, Brittany already has enough college credit hours to be a UT sophomore.

“My younger daughter Chandler [a high school sophomore] wants to do it, too,” Natasha added.

High school students, including home-schoolers, who pursue dual enrollment must have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher to qualify. For general education courses such as English, math, history or science, they also have to score 19 or better on the reading, math and English sections of the ACT.

Qualifying scores to enroll in the college’s Career/Technical courses vary. Career/Technical degree programs prepare students to enter the workforce directly upon graduation.

Previously, high school students could take dual enrollment courses only if their high school offered and gave credit for similar courses. But now, thanks to a new directive by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, they can enroll in college classes only — and they can receive up to $300 in grant money in the process.

“[Dual Enrollment] was a wonderful experience for us,” said Terrie West, whose daughter, Erin, is now a sophomore majoring in education at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City.

“It was a blessing once she got into Carson-Newman,” she added. “Erin feels like she has stayed on track to graduate in four years because of having had the two Dual Enrollment classes in English.”

Dorian Barbee has four children who have participated in Dual Enrollment courses at Pellissippi State.

“It’s been invaluable to our family,” said Barbee, who, like Natasha, home-schooled her children. “It was so helpful to have a means of acclimating them to classroom instruction while still having the support of high school resources.

“I have a teaching degree, but I was grateful for [Dual Enrollment] instruction that senior year in courses like chemistry and math,” she added.

Two of Barbee’s children are at UT. A third earned an associate’s degree in Interior Design Technology from PSTCC and works in Nashville.

Although parents say their high school students are sometimes apprehensive about taking Dual Enrollment college-level courses, they agree that once in, the students find that the program provides a positive experience in the transition from high school to college.

“Erin probably wasn’t gung-ho about it,” Terrie said.

“She thought it would be extra work and didn’t know if she would struggle or not. But she got lots of encouragement from her instructor, Kathy Byrd [now Dual Enrollment coordinator].

“I think Erin really felt like she had a connection, and she even recommends it to her friends now,” she added.

For additional information on PSTCC’s Dual Enrollment program, call Kathy Byrd, 865-981-5320.


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