BLUFFTON DRAWING MORE DUAL-ENROLLMENT STUDENTS
Bluffton University’s effort to expand an academic option for high school students—at Mennonite as well as public schools—is paying off.
This fall, 89 students are participating in the university’s dual-enrollment program, which allows them to earn Bluffton credit by completing Bluffton courses while still at their high schools. That’s 70 more students than a year ago, with nearly 70 percent of the total from three predominantly Mennonite schools.
A combined 62 students are taking approved Bluffton courses from their teachers at Central Christian High School in Kidron, Ohio, where accounting, math and literature courses are available; Bethany Christian High School in Goshen, Ind. (psychology and Spanish); and Shalom Christian Academy in Chambersburg, Pa. (psychology) The other current participants are from Delphos St. John’s, Miller City and Elida high schools near Bluffton.
At the same time the program enables high school students to earn college credit, it gives the university a chance to connect with prospective students. "It’s our hope that we build Bluffton recognition among these students," says Chris Jebsen, Bluffton’s admissions director. "We hope we become their destination to enroll full time." Those who do are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship.
Jebsen attributes the higher dual-enrollment numbers largely to the "legwork" of Andy Lehman, an admissions counselor, and Dr. Gayle Trollinger, professor of education and former associate dean of academic affairs. He accompanied the two of them on a visit to Central Christian last December and, due to that visit, he says, "the interest exploded." Initiating contact at that point in the school year, Jebsen adds, gave everyone involved more time to think about what courses might work well this fall.
Shalom Christian Academy joined the program this year after the school’s guidance counselor heard a presentation about dual enrollment at a meeting of Mennonite high school counselors on campus early last spring.
To participate in the program, a student must either have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0—on a 4.0 scale—or be recommended by the course instructor. To serve as an instructor, the high school teacher must hold a master’s degree in the content area or have earned at least 15 graduate credits in the content along with "extraordinary experience." In addition, teachers must have an administrative recommendation from their high school, as well as approval from the pertinent department chair at Bluffton.
Participating students pay $75 in tuition per dual-enrollment credit hour and gain online access to the university library and to Jenzabar, Bluffton’s student-services system. Students receive Jenzabar account information, and a Bluffton student ID card, during a required orientation visit. At the same time, they can sit in on the campus version of the class they will be taking or meet a faculty member who teaches in that subject area.
"It’s creating opportunity to get these students on campus," says Jebsen about the program, which the university hopes will also build ties with the participating teachers. While not paid by Bluffton, they are classified as adjunct faculty for teaching the college-level material and must also spend at least a half day on campus for an orientation. A Bluffton faculty member is assigned to oversee each class.
Bluffton public relations, 9/29/11