The life of a high school student is hard enough, so imagine trying to juggle college on top of it all. It may sound impossible, but a select group of students here at SPC are doing just that. What is “that,” you ask? I’m talking about the dual-enrollment and early college programs – that’s what’s that. Moreover, these extraordinary students have extracurricular activities and full-time jobs to worry about, too. It may be a tough path, but high school students can take courses through SPC for free. Not only is this a smart financial decision, it’s also a great way to impress colleges and universities looking for students with initiative and drive. Indeed, SPC’s dual-enrollment and early college students are certainly ahead of the game.
To learn more, read on to hear about Maria Thurber’s experience with the dual-enrollment program.
Why did you decide to dual-enroll at SPC?
Back in 2010, I was in my freshman year of high school. I decided that I really wanted an SPC planner. I had owned one before and was really fond of it. So, I walked into the Health Education Center located in Pinellas Park and found myself being asked if I was a dual-enrolled student and, if not, if I wanted to become one. I was so surprised and very excited; I did not really know about the program. I also need to add that this was on the Wednesday the week before the spring semester started. So I took the placement test and passed. I enrolled in some classes and was set to start the next Monday. It was the most thrilling weekend I have ever experienced in my life! I was kind of scared at the beginning but felt that it was the best choice for me. I was ready for the next step in my education. After the first semester, I felt at home and started to get involved. Since then, I can say that I have had a great experience. I truly recommend it to everyone. But you have to work hard. After all, it is college.
What opportunities have become available to you as a result of dual-enrolling?
The experiences that I have gained are priceless. I originally thought that it was going to be a lot of work and take a lot of my time; however, once I got into my classes and met the wonderful faculty, I loved it.
As for experiences, I have been able to gain some leadership skills and practice with public speaking. I’ve also had opportunities to travel and represent my school in conferences.
Since you’re juggling high school and college courses, how do you manage your time?
I definitively try and give both the same priority. I work on college homework right after class, so that I do not get behind. And I work on high school work a little bit every day. If you are juggling both high school and college courses, it is of the most importance to be on top of everything. It is definitively not for everyone. Instead of having some time to ‘do nothing,’ you have to stay on track and be aware of what is due and be prepared for class.
What would you change about the program?
I find the program to be amazing. It is a great way for those students who want to strive and take advantage of their time in high school and get the work done. However, as a home-schooled student I have to pay for my college textbooks in contrast to students of regular county high schools who receive their books for free. I find it to be unfair since we are still under the same category of dual-enrolled students. I would change that.
How will this experience help you in the future?
I think it has given me an advantage—literally. I have been able to earn some college credit and move ahead in my education. I would not trade my time at SPC; it has been amazing.
What advice can you give to dual-enrollment students starting their first term at SPC?
I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay on top of your schoolwork. Be aware of all the help that is available to you as a St. Petersburg College student. There is the Learning Support Commons, the Library, and the Writing Studies. Also, join a club or organization. It is very fun to be part of a group; it makes the college experience that much better. I’ve been very involved in various clubs like Phi Theta Kappa, Student Government, and the Honors College.