February 5, 2014: Dual Credit Courses

Last week’s blog mentioned that Sul Ross is even more affordable than the U.S. News and World Report has acknowledged. That’s because of opportunities for students to earn classes at Southwest Texas Junior College or acquire dual college course credits while still in high school. Both avenues are a great way to get a solid start on future college graduation. In fact, concerning the latter, recent research confirms that dual credit students are significantly more likely to finish college than those students who wait until after high school graduation to continue their studies.

High school students who take college courses as juniors and seniors build a foundation for success across many dimensions. First, not only are these students indicative of the kinds of young adults who are planning ahead for college, they also are learning about college instructional expectations firsthand so they will know what to expect at the next level. They also are gaining valuable experience about the time commitment that college will require once they get there. And, they are getting a head start on essential core classes that are building blocks for success in other, higher level courses that will exercise their abilities to read, write, and communicate more effectively.

I’ve already mentioned that dual credit courses are a particularly frugal way to reduce college costs but I don’t think I said much about how this works. In Alpine, Dr. Jimmy Case and Mary Beth Marks (Jimmy is interim Provost and Mary Beth is Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management) are working closely with area high schools to provide dual credit, lower division courses. Students can earn these credits by attending classes on campus, through Interactive TV, or in some cases, on their own high school campuses in courses taught by familiar high school teachers who are qualified to teach college coursework. Sul Ross charges tuition for such courses at a reduced rate which is frequently picked up by the local school district.

Dual credit courses are just one important way that Sul Ross is working closely to celebrate our relationships with our K12 partners in the region.  We also are working in a more concerted fashion to help each other out across the spectrum of our mutual interests. For example, Alpine ISD has excellent athletic facilities. . Just this past week AISD invited Sul Ross to share their new track to help our track athletes prepare for the spring season while we begin an extensive project to rehabilitate our existing facilities near Jackson Field. Of course we readily accepted this generous offer and are very thankful for the willingness of the superintendent and the high school coaches to welcome us to their campus. Alpine ISD has also shared with us their extensive knowledge about track surfaces and companies we may wish to hire to upgrade our own facility. And they put us in contact with a company we might consider when we look into swapping out our ancient, Lobo bus with alternatives that will better suit our needs for reliable transportation as we send our student-athletes on numerous road trips to compete across a four state area and beyond.

While I plan on talking about this last item quite a bit more in a future blog, I’ll share one bit of information that I found particularly interesting when looking into our travel needs. Sul Ross student-athletes as a group travel approximately 50,000 miles each year to represent Lobo athletics and alumni in various sports. That’s a lot of driving! To make sure they arrive safely and in good shape to perform at their best, CFO Cesar Valenzuela, his staff, and interim Athletic Director Bobby Mesker have been looking at the best transportation options for the remainder of this year and for many years to come. I won’t say anymore than this right now but I am confident that the Lobo family will be pleased with the eventual outcome. I know I am excited about the prospects and I believe you will be too!