​Dual enrollment has always been a great deal, and a new pilot program Central Michigan University started with the Shiawassee Regional Education Service District makes it even better.

The program allows high school students the chance to dual enroll in college classes, earning both high school and college credits — at no cost to the student or family.

The pilot program is the latest offering in the world of dual enrollment — a chance for high school students to get a head start on college credits.

Why should a high school senior dual enroll?

  • Students can take classes at CMU that aren’t available in their high schools.
  • Students may take one or two college courses each semester or session.
  • CMU Admissions will work with students to enroll them in courses that meet their individual needs once they’re accepted.
  • CMU accepts dual enrollment credit from other colleges.
  • Dual enrollment students may count their earned CMU credits both toward high school graduation requirements and college requirements.

It’s a great deal, says Al Zainea, director of undergraduate programs and academic liaison.

“You can get a head start,” he says. “You can graduate from high school with six to 10 classes already fulfilled. That’s 18 to 30 credit hours.

“That's one academic year already completed,” he says. “You’re talking $10,000 less in tuition. And from a parents’ standpoint, expense is always a factor.

“The other benefit is flexibility for students,” Zainea says. “We’re delivering the classes online —not sending their kids on the road. They still get interaction with faculty, but the student can be anywhere — at home, at school.”

The pilot program at Shiawassee is a unique hybrid — a blended learning arrangement including online classes and three face-to-face sessions on Saturdays throughout the semester. One of the Saturday sessions introduces students to the skills necessary and support available to help them be successful in college.

The tuition, books and other materials are funded by the SRESD at no cost to the student or families. Student enrollment in this countywide program will eventually be funded by each of the participating local school districts within SRESD.

The Shiawassee County district has one of the highest high school graduation rates in the state, but among the lowest number of bachelor’s degrees, says John VanWagoner, associate superintendent at the SRESD. Lack of access to a public four-year institution may be one of the reasons, he says, and this partnership with CMU creates access.

The program started with 49 students in the fall, with 75 enrolled this semester, Zainea says.

“Our hope is that as we continue to foster these relationships, we’ll see students already prepared to come to college,” Zainea says. “And we’ll see them interested in coming to CMU, because of the experiences they’ve had.”

Zainea’s daughter, Nicole, did dual enrollment as a student at Mount Pleasant High School. She’s a freshman now at CMU.

“I loved that when she came to campus, she already had 18 credit hours completed,” Zainea says. “She knew what the expectations were, in writing, in math, in the classroom setting.

“Usually freshmen spend the first four to six weeks consumed by learning study skills and time management,” he says. “She had that already ingrained in her. Her transition to college was a piece of cake.”

In most cases, the school district pays for 60 to 70 percent of the tuition and the family pays the rest, Zainea says.

Students who participated in dual enrollment in high school have significantly higher college grade point averages three years after high school graduation than their peers who didn’t dual enroll, according to a study by Community College Research Center. Dual enrolled students also earned more college credits, showing progress toward a degree, than nonparticipating peers.

For more information on dual enrollment opportunities at CMU, visit here.