Middle Tennessee State University’s Dual Enrollment program is seeing record enrollment because of strengthening partnerships with Rutherford County Schools as well as expansion into Sumner and Wilson counties.
With dual enrollment, high school students can get a head start by taking MTSU courses for college credit at little to no cost. Currently, MTSU partners with 16 area high schools and has more than 1,450 dual enrollment students for the fall 2023 semester.
The enrollment for this semester is the program’s highest ever, and 250 more students than the previous record. Matt Hannah, director for Dual Enrollment, said this big of an increase would not be possible if not for his staff’s experience and organization.
“We realize that many of our students and parents are going through the college admission process for the first time,” said Hannah, who has worked with dual enrollment students for more than eight years. “Our office takes a personal approach to providing guidance for students and parents through the dual enrollment admission and enrollment process.”
Many of these new students come from Beech High School and Merrol Hyde Magnet School, both in Sumner County. Those schools both reached out to MTSU’s University College because of the success they had seen in the high schools that had partnered with MTSU Dual Enrollment for the last several years.
“We were most impressed with the system MTSU already had in place to help us with the application process and the way they communicated with us counselors and the students,” said Dana Butler, one of the school counselors at Beech High School.
“We wanted a true partnership and that is what we got,” she said. “This partnership also allows students a chance to learn more about how things work in higher education before becoming a full-time college student.”
In addition to Beech and Merrol Hyde joining this academic year, MTSU partnered with Mt. Juliet High School in Wilson County last year. Casey Brown, who is a coordinator with the Office of Dual Enrollment, said that even more expansion is high on their list of priorities.
“We believe strongly in the experience we provide to high schools and students,” Brown said. “Just as the university attracts some of the best students in the Midstate, we are discovering our program is appealing to folks throughout the region.
“The response to our presence in these new areas, particularly in Sumner County, has been overwhelmingly positive. Word-of-mouth matters, and we are always ready to have a conversation about what we can offer.”
Students are able to take these courses at little to no cost because of the state of Tennessee’s Dual Enrollment Grant. Essentially, if a student meets the requirements for dual enrollment courses they also meet the requirements for the grant, which pays for a student’s first five courses. Many dual enrollment students exit the program with 12 hours of college credit under their belts.
The Office of Dual Enrollment is also responsible for making sure these students complete the application process correctly and getting them enrolled in their courses. Four full-time staff walk students through the MTSU admission process just as if they were a full-time student. It results in great practice for the students and their families as they prepare to apply to college as the student nears graduation.
That staff also checks in with students throughout their semester to make sure their classes are going well, and to make the transition from one course to the next as seamless as possible.
“So, really from the time they first start having this kernel of an idea about going to college early to the time they graduate high school, we want to be with them,” Brown said.
For more information about MTSU Dual Enrollment you can visit the office’s website at MTSU.edu/dualenrollment or give them a call at 615-898-5246.
— Hunter Patterson (Hunter.Patterson@mtsu.edu)