By Jeff Murphy, December 7, 2017
WARRENSBURG, MO – While the University of Central Missouri was being formally recognized
for its recent accreditation by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships
(NACEP), UCM staff also were invited to join a select group of organization members
on a national stage to share details about the university’s success in dual credit.
NACEP is the nation’s only accrediting organization for concurrent enrollment partnerships. It announced in May that UCM was among 19 colleges and universities nationwide to earn accreditation, leading to a total of 105 NACEP-accredited programs in 22 states. This designation means that as a dual credit course sponsor, UCM is meeting 17 standards to ensure the quality of high school course content and alignment of expectations for student work in dual credit courses.
To formally recognize UCM’s NACEP designation, the university was invited to participate in the NACEP annual conference in Washington, D.C., in October. Sandy Cruz, director of the university’s high school dual credit program, had the opportunity to serve on a three-member panel that showcased successful dual credit programs at UCM, Northern State University in South Dakota and Mid-Michigan Community College.
“Our program was one of three programs nationally that were highlighted during the plenary session because of things that we are doing successfully and may be different from other programs,” Cruz said. “In UCM’s case, we were asked to talk about our student support services and our advising piece that is included in our dual credit that is not part of other (NACEP) programs.”
She also noted that another focus for UCM dealt with communication to students. The university’s strong personal touch includes sending out informational packets to every newly admitted student at the beginning of the semester.
“This is a way to get students acquainted with our practices and polices related to dual credit,” Cruz said. “Some high school students may actually be taking dual credit from multiple institutions.”
UCM currently serves 1,500 students who are taking dual credit this fall semester. This represents a 25 percent increase over the same period a year ago, and demonstrates just how much momentum dual credit offerings are gaining.
“The interest in dual credit has grown every year. It has been a trend at UCM for more than the past five years,” Cruz said. She added that this growth also aligns with a national trend, with Missouri being one of the leading states for guidelines and support for dual credit.
The university currently partners with approximately 100 schools and career centers throughout Missouri to offer dual credit courses, which allow students to gain high school and college credit simultaneously. Students can begin taking courses as early as their freshman year of high school, although most begin their junior or senior year, according to Cruz. Some students also are home-schooled. Benefits include the opportunity to get a significant tuition discount – about two-thirds off the rate other students pay for undergraduate courses, while also reducing the time toward degree completion.
“In some cases, they can shave off a year of college,” Cruz said.
To help strengthen partnerships with area school district, UCM has launched Innovation Track initiatives in a number of communities near the university. In addition to enabling students to begin taking courses on the UCM campus while they are still enrolled in high school, it also provides opportunities and support services that contribute to students’ success that include access to tutorial assistance, computer and writing labs on campus, a special rate for use of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, free admission to athletic events at home and more.
For additional information about high school dual credit courses through UCM, contact Cruz at 660-543-8718 or email@example.com.