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Student participation in dual enrollment program with Howard Community College, county schools sees increase

Participation in the JumpStart dual enrollment program between Howard County Public School System students and Howard Community College increased 15% from last spring to the 2020 fall semester.

Almost 1,800 Howard County school system students took at least one course at the community college this past fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, up from 1,563 students last spring. District students enrolled in more than 2,800 courses for college credit in the fall.

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“I am incredibly proud of the thousands of HCPSS students who have pushed themselves to engage in these rigorous dual enrollment courses, gaining valuable skills and experience to prepare them for future success,” schools Superintendent Michael Martirano said in a news release.

The dual enrollment program gives high school students the opportunity to earn college credit. When the JumpStart program began in 2013, 82 students participated. In 2018, the program then added 30- and 60-credit programs at Oakland Mills and River Hill, with some sophomores and freshmen participating. The school system believes dual enrollment programs increase postsecondary readiness.

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In addition to courses offered at the school system’s high schools, some introductory and advanced courses are offered at Howard Community College in areas such as arts, business, math, world languages, science and others. More than 100 of the courses that can be taken at the college fill both high school graduation requirements and grant college credit.

However, some colleges do not accept dual enrollment credit because of quality or qualification concerns.

JumpStart students are able to get college credits at 50% of Howard Community College’s normal cost. Students in the school system’s free and reduced meals program, or FARMs, can earn college credits for free, excluding the fees, which are about $75 per course, and textbooks, which can cost as high as $250. There is no application fee for any student.

“I applaud the dedication of the countless HCC faculty and staff who have worked to build a strong dual enrollment partnership with HCPSS on behalf of Howard County families,” Howard Community College President Kathleen Hetherington said in the release. “Dual enrollment is an outstanding benefit for students to advance their education, save money and start on their future pathway to success.”

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Howard Community College’s spring semester, which will continue in the college’s mostly virtual “blended” learning model, begins Jan. 30. Students interested in JumpStart can email jumpstart@hcpss.org or jumpstart@howardcc.edu.

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