Jordan Mazik graduated from Weatherford College in May, but, unlike any of her fellow graduates, she didn’t receive her high school diploma until two weeks later.
Mazik began taking dual credit classes (earning high school and college credit simultaneously) her sophomore year at Community Christian School in Mineral Wells and starting racking up the 60 hours of college credit required for her associate’s degree.
“This experience was such a blessing to me,” Mazic said. “I can't even put it into words how grateful I am that I could do all this. At least getting a taste of college classes is so important for high schoolers today. It really puts into perspective what's to come.”
Mazik is now headed to Texas State University in San Marcos to continue her education in psychology.
“I'm ready for whatever life throws at me,” Mazic said.
The number of dual credit students at Weatherford College has steadily increased over the years. In the 2006-07 academic year, 795 high school students from across the college’s five-county service area (Parker, Wise, Palo Pinto, Hood and Jack counties) enrolled in at least one WC dual credit course. By 2015-16 that number had increased to 1,269 students.
Granbury High School has had the most students enrolled in dual credit courses with WC over the past decade with a total of 1,156, followed by 815 at Decatur High School and 747 at Aledo.
“The locale of Weatherford College and GISD's commitment to on-site dual credit instructors have had a huge impact on our ability to serve students,” said Claudia Hurst, counselor at Granbury High School.
Now, thanks to changes made during the 84th legislative session in Austin, the number of dual credit students has the potential to make even greater leaps.
Previously, only high school juniors and seniors were eligible to enroll in dual credit classes without special permission, and then only two courses per semester. House bill 505 eliminated the grade and maximum credit hour restriction, and starting this fall high school freshmen can begin taking college courses with fewer limitations.
“All of our district partners are working with their students to determine what dual credit options best serve their needs,” said Mike Endy, WC Executive Dean of Academics. “The 29-hour ceiling is gone and we are working to make sure we can o er each institution the courses and hours they will need.”
Decatur High School established an Early College Academy a year ago to provide younger students access before the rules changed, and Weatherford High School is implementing a similar academy this year.
“Through our partnership with WC, we are excited we are able to provide a four-year plan that is centered around 42 transferrable core-credit hours that the state of Texas guarantees acceptance by a public four-year university,” said Decatur High School counselor Anne Marie Wartes.
“Our goal at DHS has been to give every student the opportunity to be educated according to their academic needs and personal interests. is program aims toward preparing students for life-long learning, success in their post-secondary plans, career opportunities and personal success in life.”
Eric Sams, Associate Principal at the Weatherford High School Ninth Grade Center, said the district has had an outpouring of interest and their academy has an inaugural class of 34 students.
“By starting in the freshman year with courses that are developmentally and academically appropriate, we hope to foster a passion for learning and give young students an opportunity to succeed at college level work,” Sams said. “The belief is that this success and experience will build on itself, thereby promoting college readiness and the likelihood of student success.”
Endy said studies show students who complete two or more dual credit classes in high school experience higher completion rates in both high school and college than those who do not. As dual credit hours increase, the probability of completion rises significantly. However, he emphasized, dual credit isn’t a one-size-fits-all tool, and each student must follow the education path that works for them.
“The question isn’t if dual credit helps,” Endy said. “The question is how much dual credit and which courses are right for the student. For some students, a few courses in ‘the basics’ gives them a head start and a sense of confidence without putting them out of step chronologically or socially. For some students, completing the equivalent of an entire year of college makes a huge difference in future planning as well as future success.”