MHS offers students opportunity to gain college credit

Kayla Baltazar, News-Features/Opinion Editor

   With the upcoming course selection for juniors, sophomores and freshmen, the course options seem endless. MHS offers a plethora of courses, and this year, there will be new opportunities showcased in the selection process. Some of these options consist of dual credit classes.

   Dual credit classes are classes that give students two credits: one MHS graduation credit, and one credit with College of Lake County (CLC). This means, if you pass the class, you have the opportunity to earn college credit. Stacey Gorman, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, explained that while the curriculum coincides with CLC, MHS teachers are the ones teaching the courses. 

   “ Dual credit courses allow students to earn college credit for courses taken while they are in high school. Dual credit courses at Mundelein High School follow the curriculum of courses at the College of Lake County, but are taught by MHS teachers in MHS classrooms,” Gorman said. “Students who pass dual credit courses earn both high school and college-level credit for the same course.”

   Dual credit courses offering college credit seem very similar to AP classes, however, they are both very different. AP classes are nationwide; they are created by College Board and any college or university would be aware of the curriculum.

   “Advanced Placement classes are designed by College Board to be the most rigorous college level experience in high school,” said Assistant Superintendent of Specialized Programs Anthony Kroll. “When you’re taking [an AP class], you’re getting a college curriculum, but you’re getting one that’s been taught for a long time– [and it’s] universally known.”

   Dual credit classes, however, are more specific to whichever college is offering the course through the high school. At Mundelein, the curriculum followed is from CLC. 

   Kroll said that most colleges or universities would only have some idea what you did in your dual credit classes. He attributed the reasoning to this as the curriculum not being as publicized as the AP curriculum is. 

   He also noted that another significant difference between AP and dual credit is the AP exam at the end of the year. Students have to take a test at the end of the year in AP courses to receive college credit; in dual credit courses, all you have to do is pass the class. 

   “The other thing is with AP, you have to get a 3 or better on the test. But a dual credit class, you just have to pass the class with a C or better, and you’ll get that credit,” said Kroll.

   While MHS is introducing new dual credit classes next year such as Honors Composition English, the school already offers some dual credit courses, which include Honors Media Class, Accounting, Manufacturing Internship Program, and the Education Program. John Stowers, family consumer science teacher, noted that teaching dual credit classes is very different from regular high school classes, such as how there is “less flexibility for the teacher.”

   “CLC needs to approve my syllabus, grading requirements, academic integrity policy, assessments and course schedule,” Stowers said. “It requires a lot more advanced planning than what most high school teachers do. For example, I’m starting to create my weekly agenda for the class I’ll be teaching in the fall of 2023.”

   There’s also a challenge in finding teachers to teach dual credit classes. In order to teach a dual credit class, a teacher needs either a Master’s degree or 18 graduate hours in the subject.

   Stowers received his MBA in Business and a MA in Education, which allowed him to apply to teach dual credit with CLC.

   “You need to have a Master’s degree in the subject you are teaching,” explained Stowers. “Then, you literally have to fill out a job application, provide a resume, give references. You even have to physically go to CLC and show them two forms of ID.”

   The introduction of dual credit courses is an exciting opportunity for MHS students. The benefits are clear: college credit through CLC. Dual credit courses are selected as honors courses, so students get honors credit as well, hopefully boosting their GPA. 

   Along with the on-paper benefits, Gorman notes that taking dual credit courses would help students reach new opportunities, getting that experience taking a college-level course.

   “We are so excited to offer more dual credit classes because we believe these college level courses will open so many doors for our students beyond high school,” said Gorman. “Our students deserve the best.”