Dual credit opportunities and funding have increased dramatically in Idaho. State funding available for public school students to pay for dual credit has moved from zero to $4,125. There is a clear need for intentional student advising as more and more students take advantage of these opportunities.
The Concurrent Enrollment Program at Boise State University has offered advising for students for many years, usually when a student or parent called to ask for help. Increased state funding has led to increased participation by the students.
Nichole Snyder, Advanced Opportunities Coordinator at Boise State said, “We have focused our efforts on helping students make strategic choices when taking dual credit courses. Initiatives like the Sophomore Start Program show students how to connect the dots between earning college credit in high school and applying it toward a four-year degree at Boise State.”
Started in 2015, Sophomore Start is an opportunity designed to help high school students earn 30 college credits toward a Boise State degree. Beginning in their sophomore year of high school, participants are required to meet with an advisor to create a degree plan. The staff reviews all of the dual credit and Advanced Placement course options at their high school and teaches them how to understand the requirements for majors in their areas of interest. Participants can also take summer courses at the university at a reduced per credit rate. By reaching that 30-credit goal, they will start their college career as a sophomore with courses that they know apply toward their degree requirements.
“We have also partnered with a local school district to offer an associate degree option, but as we work with students, they usually decide to participate in Sophomore Start instead. Depending on their major, an associate degree may not be the best way to get ahead. Reaching the 64-credit requirement is difficult, and courses vary by high school,” Snyder stated,” Most students decide it’s a better use of time to take classes they know will apply toward a four-year degree.”
Many dual credit students only take one or two dual credit classes. For these students, Boise State created generic advising videos for its website. These discuss topics ranging from what is concurrent enrollment to questions about course transferability versus course applicability to a degree.
“We also experimented last fall and spring with offering group advising sessions at the university. We scheduled three Saturday morning options each semester, but attendance was low. Getting students to come on a Saturday was not successful. The ones that did had a very positive experience, but this is an area where we are trying to find other ways to provide information face to face,” commented Snyder.
In order to alleviate mitigating barriers to college, we’ve developed strong partnerships with our participating high schools. These schools have allowed us to use their facilities to hold one on one and group advising sessions for students. In addition, we’ve made ourselves available to meet with students at our campus regional site locations spread throughout the Boise area. These outlets provide students with open access to advising and we’ve seen an increased number of students take advantage of these convenient advising opportunities.
High school students and parents need strategic advising to help them navigate the college landscape and choose dual credit courses that will apply to a college degree. Sophomore Start has proven to be an effective way to do that. Snyder said, “We plan to continue to experiment to find ways to reach students and parents with the information they need to make the best decisions about dual credit opportunities in Idaho.”