Under this new partnership, Augusta University faculty will teach college-level courses to students directly in their own high schools, providing greater access than ever before.
“I think this is a great initiative that can showcase our faculty and assist students in getting a start on college,” said Mark Thompson, PhD, the interim dean of the James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta University, who will be teaching an introduction to economics course next semester at Lakeside High School. “I also think this new dual enrollment will help make direct connections with students and school administrators and let them know what Augusta University has to offer. The faculty can generate excitement around the classes that could lead to other high school students planning for dual enrollment courses in the future that may not have considered it for various reasons.”
Accessibility to higher education can often prove a challenge for some students, but this partnership seeks to overcome that obstacle, said Augusta University President Brooks A. Keel, PhD.
“We recognize that accessibility can too often be a barrier to higher education, and transportation can be a challenge for students, especially those who live far away from our campuses,” Keel said during a launch celebration last month. “That’s why we’re proud to say that, with this partnership, we’re bringing our Augusta University faculty right to the students.”
With the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school, students can save time and money while also gaining a head start on their future careers, Thompson said.
“Most courses that will be offered this fall are part of the university core curriculum. As such, the dual credit will give students a step toward their degree, regardless of their major, and result in a cost savings to the student,” Thompson said. “I think the dual enrollment certainly can help guide students in different ways. For example, the courses may confirm their interest in a particular area or field. Alternatively, it may help identify areas they may not want to pursue. In addition, students will have a contact that can help connect them with other AU faculty in different areas, if students are interested.”
Steve Flynt, EdD, superintendent of the Columbia County School District, said the district is grateful for this new partnership and Augusta University’s efforts to help bring students this unique and enhanced learning opportunity.
“Providing dual enrollment on campus at all five high schools offers more students a chance to get ahead academically, while also providing a financial advantage to earn college credits at no cost,” he said.
Christopher Mezzetti, an instructor for the Department of Social Sciences in Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, will be teaching “Introduction to American Government” this fall at Greenbrier High School and the same course at Grovetown High School in the spring of 2024.
“I have been a part-time adjunct instructor at Augusta University since 2014 and was recently asked if I would be interested in teaching a dual-enrollment course this fall,” Mezzetti said. “I happen to work and reside in Columbia County and feel the opportunity to interact with high school students has a great deal of potential.”
Mezzetti said he looks forward to the opportunity to positively influence a prospective college student who initially has plans of attending post-secondary education.
“Whether the student ultimately enrolls at Augusta University or elsewhere, each dual-enrollment class completed in the high school is one less the student will have to complete while enrolled in college,” he said. “There is definitely a financial savings component when you factor in all of the traditional expenses associated with attending college. These students should be saving significant amounts of money on tuition, books and living expenses. Additionally, aspiring college students will have the opportunity to gradually acclimate to the increased workload and study requirements of higher education. This may potentially reduce the shock some traditional freshmen experience at the beginning of the first semester.”
The new program aims to engage students in their educational and career possibilities as early as possible, fostering their success throughout their academic journey, Keel said. In addition to providing college courses, Augusta University will offer information sessions, guidance and support to high school students throughout the admissions process. The university will also implement an early-alert program to notify high school counselors when a student may need additional coaching to achieve success.
“We see this initiative as a win for everyone involved, from students and their parents to all of us who are dedicated to furthering educational opportunities in our community,” Keel said. “This program promises to save families significant time and money, but that’s not the only plus side with this partnership. When we can help our local students get a head start on their careers, our entire community stands to benefit from a stronger and more robust workforce pipeline as a result.”
Heather Chiero, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of History, Anthropology and Philosophy at Augusta University and will be teaching a world geography course next spring at Lakeside High School.
“I’m looking forward to really showing the students what a college class really is, as a precursor to the next steps of their education,” Chiero said, adding that while classroom management and the expectations for timeliness of assignments might be different than the high school level classes, these courses will prepare the students for the future. “I can offer these students a taste of the world because this is a world regional geography course. And I am hoping that this dual enrollment shows them all that they can get an excellent quality college education if they do choose Augusta University.”
Chiero is also hoping to get more future students interested in Augusta University’s Study Abroad program.
“We have a really strong study abroad program here at Augusta University, and I want more people in the community to know the opportunities we have to offer future students,” she said. “I hope to show the interrelatedness of geography to other disciplines and develop student interest in other social sciences and humanities along the way.”
Chris Terry, PhD, assistant chair and assistant professor of the Department of Mathematics at Augusta University, will be teaching college algebra in the fall at Grovetown High School and the same course at Greenbrier High School in the spring.
“Classes begin at 7:22 a.m., so it is a good thing I am an early riser,” Terry said, laughing. “Students have a few ways to earn college credit before they graduate from high school like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses. Dual enrollment is another way to do this. Having credit going into college opens space in students’ schedules so they can take advantage of the wide array of new subjects to study when they start in college.”
These dual enrollment courses give students the opportunity to learn from experts in the subjects they are interested in studying, Terry said.
“In my opinion, the best thing about dual enrollment is giving students the chance to study subjects that they won’t have access to in high school,” he said. “They can learn anthropology, economics, world languages and so much more. Students who excel at a particular subject can go much deeper into it than they would be able to in high school.”
This landmark initiative represents a significant milestone in the shared mission of Augusta University and the Columbia County School District to serve and strengthen our community, Keel said.
“We’re thrilled to launch this partnership with the Columbia County School District. I must thank everyone who has worked tirelessly to make this project a reality,” he said. “From the faculty members who will be teaching these classes to the administrators who have made this partnership possible, we could not have achieved this milestone without your dedication and commitment to the cause.”