Dual Enrollment Provides Students with Career Head Start
Gretchen Shultz, Director of Workforce Development, Tooling U-SME on
February 08, 2021
Back in October, community college presidents and school superintendents
met virtually at a meeting organized by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and The School Superintendents Association (AASA) to discuss college and career readiness.
In the Community College Daily, Kent Phillippe, associate vice
president of research and student success at AACC,
noted “research shows huge increases in dual enrollment across the country since
2001, continuing to grow even during the pandemic.”
We are not surprised. Dual enrollment programs, which allow students to
earn college credit while still in high school, provide benefits to both
students and schools.
Additionally, at the conference, AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech noted
that “dual enrollment has helped address equity at many school districts,
allowing students who may have not even considered going to college to
actually graduate from high school with college credits,” according to the
We work with community colleges, vocational schools and high schools on
dual enrollment programs that are successfully preparing students for
college coursework and expectations while acting as a valuable source of
students into local post-secondary educational programs.
Record Enrollment at Odessa College
One of our educational partners, Odessa College (OC) in West Texas is
an excellent example. The school has seen growth despite this year’s
OC’s fall 2020 enrollment broke the 7,000 mark for the first time with
7,044 students registered for 2020 fall classes. OC had an enrollment
increase for the 12th consecutive year.
Its dual enrollment program is part of that success. The dual credit
program, started in 2012, is for high school students from freshman to
senior level where they receive credits for both high school graduation and
a college degree. Dual credit students could earn more than 40 hours of
college credit by the time they graduate from high school.
“Students can earn a certificate offered by the college or even graduate
with an associate degree,” said Muhammad Naqvi, Department Chair Industrial
Technology, Odessa College, who is also a graduate of the school.
“At age 16 or 17, these students are well prepared to get ahead and will be
very successful,” he said. “I wish they had dual credit when I was young.”
The college currently has relationships with five local high schools, with
OC providing trade courses such as welding and machining. More than 200
students participate in the program.
“When other schools are going down in terms of enrollment, we are going
upwards,” said Naqvi. “The Odessa College family works hard to serve the
student community and do all we can to reach out to students and provide
At OC, the benefits of dual enrollment for students include:
Seamless transition from high school to college
Greater likelihood of success in subsequent collegiate work
Greater likelihood of earning a high school diploma and a college degree
Reduced cost of enrolling in higher education courses
OC strives to make the dual credit program affordable to all. Students can
take their first two dual credit classes at OC for free. Once students graduate and come to OC, they also get their first class
free with discounts after that. Scholarships for up to $2,500 per student
are also available.
Strict standards are in place to ensure consistency across the program.
Naqvi and his team visit the high schools to get to know faculty and make
sure equipment is up to date.
In 2019, OC moved from a curriculum with textbooks to Tooling U-SME’s
competency-based, industry-driven online training which is used by all the
high schools. This ensures curriculum standardization including for exams,
midterms and assessments.
Pivoting Due to Pandemic
In the spring, due to the pandemic, all OC classes went online until the
college started to transition students back to campus on June 1.
“Tooling U-SME kept us going during COVID-19,” said Naqvi. “We were doing
all assignments through Tooling U-SME.”
Lab work was completed with social distancing guidelines once students
returned to campus.
“You can’t do welding online,” said Naqvi. “Most welding schools didn’t
know what to do but we were already set up with Tooling U-SME so we could
educate remotely through the software until students could get back to the
Students who participate in the dual enrollment program graduate with
career skills, and in many cases, a certification approving them for
employment in the manufacturing field.
Naqvi said through dual enrollment students can earn a Level 1 Certificate
as well as a Level 2 Advanced Certificate issued by the college. In
addition, they can gain nationally recognized certifications from SME, API,
OC has a strong advisory committee with a goal to ensure OC has the best
advanced technology. In the lab and classroom, the team is committed to
bringing the practical work world to students.
“We are providing basic technical knowledge and a strong foundation to
ensure students are well rounded and meet industry workforce needs,” Naqvi
He stressed the importance of standardization for a successful program.
“It’s important to stay in touch with faculty to ensure they know what to
teach and have the tools they need,” he said.
If you are looking to add or develop your dual enrollment program, we look
forward to sharing case studies and best practices from schools like Odessa
College who are successfully implementing programs to build the workforce
and strengthen their own educational institutions.
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