High-school students load up on academic work to get college credit

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EL PASO – The sound of the alarm going off at 5 a.m. every morning is an all too familiar sound for Bryce Neria and his fellow classmates as they prepare for a 12-hour day of schoolwork.

High school students aware of the importance of a college education now have a new opportunity to get a leg up on advanced studies while still in high school. A dual credit program allows current high school students to take advantage of an early college education while in high school.

Neria says he doesn’t mind the rigors of the program. “Its absolutely worth it! You get free college credit, which can save you a lot of money.”

El Dorado High School's faculty consider that dual degree classes help raise the academic level of all students because it sets the bar at a highest level. (Nicole Castillo/Borderzine.com)

El Dorado High School's faculty consider that dual degree classes help raise the academic level of all students because it sets the bar at a highest level. (Nicole Castillo/Borderzine.com)

El Dorado High School students Neria, 17, Sedrick Deal, 17, Alejandra Sosa, 16, and Katrina Montelongo, 17, take the demanding dual credit courses in addition to their four regular high school courses in order to strengthen their academic record.

The program is designed to prepare students for college at a faster pace so when they graduate from high school they only need two years of college to get their degree.

“It gives you a reality check and strengthens your future in the college portion of your life. You will go into college knowing what work ethic and drive you to keep up with college life…” said Deal.

El Dorado is home to many dual credit students and a supportive faculty. Connie Madrid a Communication teacher as well as Speech and Debate coach is proud of her students and says that the dual credit program has raised the standards for all her students. “The dual credit program has allowed me to step up my rigor in my classroom. When I see that students are capable of doing the work that I give to dual credit students it allows me to raise my standards for the rest of my classes, which I believe is a good thing,” she said.

Although the program places more academic pressure on students, Madrid says the pressure is a positive influence on their work. “Yes this program may put extra pressure on my students, however, it is good pressure. Students in this program compete for better grades, which allows them to achieve things they probably would not have if they were not in this program. It pushes them to greater lengths.” Madrid said.

Katrina Montelongo enumerated the load this way,  “Every class  [of eight classes]I have is an IB class, IB Mathematics AP calculus, IB chemistry, IB history, IB Spanish, IB theory of knowledge, IB English II, Pre IB Physics. When I go home I eat and start on homework and I normally go to sleep at 12 am.”

It may seem that the workload is piled high on the students, but the intensity of the program is not thrown at them. Some students take more dual credit classes than do others.

“My dual credit class is mainly an English college course and the rest of my curriculum is composed of AP classes. In my English class there is no time to waste and I’m reading assignments every day. This program will make my life better by giving me fewer courses that I will need to take in college and is helping me become more prepared to what I should expect from college,” said Alejandra Sosa.

Sosa says that she will be better prepared for college life and earn her the college credits that will give her an advantage later on, but she warns that students should be prepared for the extra work.

“My views on responsibility and my future have changed because I have become more aware of reaching my goals. It also seems as though the environment I am placed in with other IB students drives me to be more motivated,” she said.

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