A Whiteland Community High School sophomore wants to concentrate on more engineering classes when he goes to college and wants to make sure he can handle the coursework when he gets there.

So, Sunvir Chahal is taking dual credit courses now while he is in high school, so he can have more time in his college schedule to take the courses he is most interested in. And the rigor of his dual credit chemistry class will help him prepare for college classes, he said.

“It is a harder class and will help prepare me for my future,” Chahal said. “I now know what to expect.”

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Thousands of local students will graduate high school with credits they can transfer to the college of their choice. The number of students taking dual credit classes is growing at most high schools, as students take the opportunity to get college coursework out of the way at the same time they are earning their high school diploma.

Dual credit classes are attractive to students because they can save money on their tuition and get a glimpse of what college coursework is like in high school, preparing them for the transition, high school administrators said.

“A huge benefit is that they are getting that college curriculum and the exposure to that curriculum,” Greenwood Community High School Principal Todd Garrison said.

The number of dual credits earned at Center Grove High School has grown by hundreds over the past few school years. More than 2,000 more dual credits were earned at Whiteland Community High School over two years. About 20 percent of the student population at Greenwood Community High School is enrolled in dual credit courses. Most other schools in the county have either stayed steady or increased a bit.

Students across the county also have the option of earning college credit in Central Nine Career Center programs and if they score well on required tests after taking Advanced Placement courses at their high schools.

Offering dual credit courses to students has become traditional for most local high schools because it’s what students want and helps prepare them for life after high school, administrators said.

“It is to give kids options, which is what we need to be about,” Whiteland Community High School Principal Tom Zobel said.

Administrators and counselors talk to students about their dual credit options when they are enrolling in classes and will advise students when it makes sense to enroll in a dual credit course.

For example, at Franklin Community High School, students who want to go to college and already know they want to study a specific subject will be encouraged to explore a dual credit option so they can get those college credits while in high school, Principal Steve Ahaus said.

“We are trying to focus on what is best for the kids,” he said.

Offering dual credit courses requires some work by administrators and educators at local high schools.

High school teachers have to be certified at the college where the credit will transfer, which typically means more education for the teachers, administrators said. Most local high schools have partnerships with Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana University or Vincennes University to offer the courses at the high school level.

Teachers also meet with college representatives to make sure that the rigor of assignments and lessons offered in the dual credit course is enough to earn the students college credit, administrators said.

Most students at Indian Creek High School are encouraged to enroll in at least one dual credit course at Indian Creek or through a program at Central Nine Career Center, Principal Luke Skobel said.

The eventual goal is to get every student some college credit, he said.

“Our hope is to get every kid, before they graduate, exposure to a college level or post-secondary level type course,” Skobel said.

By the numbers

Here is a look at the number of students earning dual credit at their local high schools:

Center Grove High School

1,640: Number of students enrolled in dual credit courses now

Franklin Community High School

521: Number of dual credits being earned now

Greenwood Community High School

188: Number of students enrolled in dual credit courses now

Indian Creek High School

189: Number of students enrolled in dual credit courses now

Whiteland Community High School

4,500: number of dual credit earned by the class of 2017

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.