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Dual-enrollment graduates plan to go to medical school early

NEWBERRY COUNTY — Tyler Shackelford was already taking AP classes at Mid-Carolina High School when Piedmont Technical College (PTC) partnered the middle college with the Newberry County School District.

Earn college credits, on a college campus, while still in high school?

“If I’m presented with an opportunity, I go,” Shackelford said. “I just went for it.”

Middle College is one of the many ways students can participate in Dual Enrollment, an advanced credit program for high school juniors and seniors. Various courses are available online, at the student’s high school, or at a PTC campus.

Some dual enrollment students plan for higher degrees. Others are looking for a diploma that will allow them to start a professional career right out of high school.

“I go to Honors College at the University of South Carolina,” Shackleford said. “I’m going to major in psychology with a minor in biology.”

There are four ways to participate in dual enrollment at PTC:

• Traditional dual-enrollment courses are taken at a student’s high school with their high school teachers.

• OnDECK courses are offered on a PTC campus and allow students to earn high school credits and college credits at the same time.

• Early Admission is for students seeking credit through PTC but not through their high school.

• PTC has partnered with some school districts to create a college for high school juniors and seniors.

Shackelford said that in addition to his high school diploma, he graduated from the Middle College program with an Associate of Arts degree and has already completed 60 credit hours. His freshman year consisted of online classes, and he took classes at PTC’s Newberry County campus during his senior year.

“The schedule is definitely a lot more flexible and, really, it’s easier for me to learn that way,” he said.

Less time spent sitting in a classroom has been traded off for more time studying at home, Shackelford said.

“If you did the job, you did well,” he said. “I’m pretty motivated, so I was like, ‘Let’s go and do it.'”

Her self-motivation extends beyond the classroom. Shackelford has a part-time job doing it online, in addition to running his own mobile retail business in Prosperity for cars and boats.

“I’m literally in a position where I can paint my life however I want, and I want to be able to get the most out of life and be able to help people,” Shackelford said.

In addition, he obtained a college education certificate while participating in dual enrollment. To be eligible, students must accumulate a minimum of 30 transferable credit hours.

“A lot of times in the arts and sciences division, students take a lot of classes and then transfer,” said Tameika Wideman, director of dual enrollment at PTC. “The college certificate recognizes their time at Piedmont Tech and gives them a credential they can take with them.”

Shackelford pointed out that because his classes at Middle College counted as AP classes at Mid-Carolina, his high school GPA was also improved. Just like his family’s finances.

Dual enrollment at PTC is designed to be affordable for all students. Residents of South Carolina attend the school tuition-free if they complete at least six credit hours per semester (usually at least two courses) at their high school, on campus, or online.

“I knew I was going to medical school and I knew it would take a lot of extra schooling,” Shackelford said. “It was a real blessing to be able to do this and save some money.”

He said the classes were harder than traditional high school work, especially during his senior year, but it was worth it.

“A lot of students ask me how it is,” he said. “I tell them if you’re mature enough to take your education seriously and have your goals together, you should.”

Dual enrollment is available at high schools across the entire PTC footprint. Students should speak with a high school guidance counselor if they think dual enrollment might be right for them. Learn more online at www.ptc.edu/dual or contact the PTC Dual Enrollment Office at (864) 941-8315.

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