CMU partners with Shiawassee schools for dual-enrollment program

Central Michigan University and the Shiawassee Regional Education Service District are aiming to encourage interest in higher learning with a new dual-enrollment program.

The program will offer Shiawassee County high school students the opportunity to take college courses online and earn credits without paying for the cost of tuition or books.

Undergraduate Programs Director Al Zainea said dual-enrollment is beneficial to all parties involved.

“CMU will attract potential students by offering college level courses to students,” Zainea said. “The student has the potential to begin their college program earlier, which allows them to get a head start at CMU.”

Shiawassee RESD will pay for students’ tuition and books for the first year, providing the seed money for the pilot program. The cost of funding will transition over to the individual school districts once the program has been established.

School district officials said the transition will likely take place sometime next year.

The partnership started when Associate Superintendent of the Shiawassee RESD John VanWagoner proposed the idea to CMU in June. VanWagoner said he approached CMU because the university’s online presence is well-suited to the program’s needs.

“The reputation of Global Campus and CMU’s online program make them a perfect partner for this project,” VanWagoner said.

The lack of a community college or university in Shiawassee County limits the opportunities for students there to pursue college degrees, VanWagoner said. By offering an early start on college without tuition costs, dual enrollment with CMU could provide a solution to this obstacle.

Located about 90 minutes south of CMU, Shiawassee County’s proximity to the university allows the program to combine the online portion of classes with face-to-face study sessions. Students in the program will meet with instructors on CMU’s campus on three select Saturdays during the school year.

There are 49 students enrolled in the program for the fall semester, primarily high school juniors and seniors with the exception of two sophomores. The only course currently being offered is PSY100: Introduction to Psychology. The program plans to offer an additional two 100-level courses in the spring semester.

The instructors for the dual-enrollment courses include both on-campus faculty and adjunct faculty members from Global Campus.

Zainea said faculty at CMU are able to handle the demand for the program and there are no plans to hire new instructors at this point.

Dual-enrollment credits will be transferable to other universities and colleges, as well, allowing both students planning on attending CMU and those looking at other colleges to pursue their collegiate education during high school.

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