Four days remained until high school graduation. U.S. History students at Western Heights strove for points to determine their grades and to satisfy the final requirements of their high school curriculum.
This high school course also would earn them their first college credits — and it all hinged upon one stuffed monkey.
While these students are still in high school, they’re also earning college credit by meeting certain academic requirements, taking in-depth courses and, in this case, performing their own satirical take on the Scopes “monkey trial” of 1925, said their teacher, Charles Winwood.
The stuffed monkey played an integral role in the performance, said concurrently enrolled high school senior Wes Renfroe.
“Look at this monkey,” he said during the performance. “This monkey’s intelligent. He’s going to [the University of Oklahoma].”
Renfroe said he is inspired by Winwood’s challenges.
“There’s not many high school classes that are challenging kids like this,” he said.
Concurrent Enrollment Benefits
She said area high schoolers who qualify are able to earn college credit. Rogers said some earn an associate degree before graduating high school. And, Rogers said, they may be able to earn that credit or degree without paying college tuition.
“Generally speaking, for students who live in the state of Oklahoma, the state regents waive six hours of tuition for the summer semester before their senior year, and for the fall and the spring of their senior year,” she said.
And now, Rogers said, OCCC offers the same waivers for high school juniors.
“We actually currently offer an additional waiver for the summer after they graduate (high school) called ‘Concurrent Momentum,’” she said, “And that’s a three-hour tuition waiver to encourage them to come back to us before they go to [the University of Oklahoma] to transfer or to start here in the fall.”
Rogers said students are responsible for paying for books, fees and any tuition costs beyond six credit hours.
She said there are two ways to earn credit through concurrent enrollment.
Some students, like Winwood’s students, earn “dual credit” — credit earned in a high school class that applies to both their college and high school curriculums, Rogers said, while others take college-level courses on OCCC’s campus or online while also attending their regular high school classes.
OCCC Bursar Cynthia Gary said, in an email, 527 high school seniors and 118 juniors attended classes at OCCC in the fall 2014 semester.
In the 2015 spring semester, those numbers increased to 615 high school seniors and 142 juniors.
The challenges and benefits
Winwood said success in concurrent enrollment courses requires ambition and dedication beyond the effort generally required to complete high school. Students who enter into Advanced Placement classes are typically those who are pushing themselves to succeed in other areas also, he said.
“I’ve found this working against them to an extent. These students are some of the elite students.”
Student Aubree Goodgion said earning college credit in a comfortable, familiar environment prepared her for the advanced course work she’ll face without overwhelming her. However, she said, getting into the AP class took hard work.
Goodgion said she enjoyed the class but said it was difficult.
“Considering it’s my first college class and I might walk out of here with a B, I’m pretty happy,” Goodgion said.
Winwood said, for most of his students, concurrent enrollment offers opportunities to pursue higher education they may otherwise not have.
“The problem here is not that they’re not smart enough,” he said. “It’s that it’s a poor district.
He said financial hardships create additional issues within a family that students may have to overcome or work around.
Rogers said OCCC has a contract with schools in Oklahoma City’s low-income areas to send college professors like Winwood into high schools to teach these courses.
“It really gives … an opportunity for students who don’t have the transportation,” Rogers said,
“They wouldn’t be able to take concurrent classes if they didn’t do that.”
Gary said concurrent enrollment programs give students confidence to achieve their college goals.
She said it’s hard to say how much exactly concurrent enrollment programs contribute to the overall success of OCCC or its students. But, she said, some measure of benefit is undeniable.
“It’s a jumping board, definately, because it gets [the students’] feet wet,” Gary said.
“It gives parents the opportunity to have their kids come and only pay the fees.
“So a lot of people take advantage of that and continue on.”
Winwood said concurrent enrollment also makes financial sense for the schools.
“When I first started thinking about it, I thought it might be a waste of funds to pay a college professor to come here and teach the class,” he said,
“At Capitol Hill, there were only four (students).
I thought about my salary as [an adjunct] professor for just four students.
“But I realized, for a high school, it’s a money saver … .”
Rogers said concurrent enrollment benefitted her when she was a student also. She said she earned a few college credits during high school.
When she applied for college scholarships, Rogers said, she had the advantage of starting with a 4.0 GPA.
“It opens up the door for more opportunity,” she said.
“I hope more students take advantage.”
Rogers said taking the ACT is the first step to becoming concurrently enrolled.
She said high school counselors can provide students with more information and the necessary authorizations to enroll.
For more information about the program, contact Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 405-682-7533.