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Dual Enrollment helps get high schoolers ahead

High school students are often preparing for their next steps, whether that be entering the workforce or pursuing higher education.

For those planning to attend college after high school, Metropolitan Community College has several ways to help get a jump start on postsecondary education. These different options can help students begin earning college credit, knock out general education courses early and even help them find a career path that they love.

Just as all the offerings are different, so are the students looking to prepare for college, says Jordan Pirtle, director of Secondary Partnerships at MCC.

“We look for students who are ‘college ready,’” says Pirtle. “’College-ready’ means many different things for students. Are they seeking a challenge? Do they manage time well? Are they prepared for the academic rigor that comes with college courses and can they handle the course load alongside their high school courses and activities? Each student is unique.”

High school students can take various general education courses through MCC programs such as CollegeNOW!, concurrent enrollment and Kickstart Online Institute. Pirtle says these are popular options for local high school students who are ready to try college-level courses and earn both high school and college credit. Nebraska high school students can also take these classes at half the price.

“CollegeNow! and KSOI are available to help students supplement their high school education,” she explains. “Concurrent Enrollment is by far our largest dual enrollment offering. We have more than 218 approved high school Concurrent Enrollment faculty members teaching our courses in our partner school districts. Last year we had more than 43,000 credit hours taken by students enrolled in a concurrent enrollment classroom.”

MCC Career Academies are another, more immersive way for students to earn college credit and discover something they are passionate about.

Keilah Sadler was a junior at Bellevue West High School and was considering a career in fashion design. Then, a shop class at her school helped her realize she liked woodworking.

“I wanted to work with my hands more and decided to go the route of construction and construction management,” Sadler says. “My counselor told me about the MCC Career Academy program. I thought ‘We can try it and see how it works. If it doesn’t, at least I know while I’m still in high school.’”

After a few courses, Sadler was hooked. She loved the hands-on work that showed her what a career in the construction field would look like.

“I took different carpentry, masonry and framing classes. You were actually doing and participating in it. The teachers would have you go right out to the lab and apply what we just talked about. They would tell us ‘This is what we can do next time.’ You are getting hands-on job training. It gets you so prepared,” she says.

Students in any of the MCC dual enrollment programs have the benefit of having access to the numerous resources the College offers, meaning there is plenty of student support for them to succeed.

“High school students enrolled at MCC in any one of our pathways have all resources available to them that any MCC student with an ID and username would have, such as the libraries, tutoring, etc.,” Pirtle says.

Sadler was able to complete so many credits through her Career Academy, that after graduating high school in 2019, she was halfway to her associate degree from MCC in Construction and Building Science. She became a full-time MCC student.

“The summer I graduated through this year, I took an internship,” she says. “I was also able to do the tiny house project. The teacher could only select eight or nine students. You learn how to problem solve and it was so much like the real world. If stuff doesn’t go to plan, you know how to fix it. It’s like the real world because nothing ever stays concrete.”

Sadler is happy she found a dual enrollment program that worked for her. She will be able to graduate at the end of summer quarter with her degree and, thanks to MCC scholarships, no debt. She says her family is so happy she was able to follow her passion early on.

“My family is just amazed,” Sadler says. “It’s so different than going to a four-year school and not having that hands-on experience. I was able to pick the right one now and not worry about debt. I haven’t paid anything out of pocket. There are so many scholarships.”

Sadler says she would recommend Career Academies to others who are curious about what jobs in those specific fields would look like.

“Overall, it was a great experience. It was so interactive. There are never too many questions. Everybody is just so helpful and so nice,” she says.

To learn more about any of the dual enrollment programs offered at MCC, visit , email or call 531-MCC-2213.

Pirtle says they will help every student find what will be the best fit for them.
“We would work with the individual student to understand their goals, why they are exploring college education, and identify the appropriate classes and pathways to get them there,” she says.