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DCPS changes its approach to dual enrollment

Cherisse Hayes, a senior at The Duke Ellington School of the Arts, took courses at Catholic University through the DC Public Schools Dual Enrollment and College Exposure Programs. Monday, April 10, 2017 (ABC7 photo)

At 17-years-old, Cherisse Hayes is already clear about her career path. "I've always wanted to be a journalist. Part of it was because I always wanted to travel. I was always reading," she told ABC7 News.

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts senior will soon study journalism on a full scholarship at George Washington University. The oldest of three sisters, Hayes feels ready for college, in part, because she's already there. "Currently I'm enrolled in Macroeconomics. Last semester I took Microeconomics," she explained. Hayes didn't take the courses at George Washington, but at Catholic University through the DC Public Schools Dual Enrollment and College Exposure Programs.

Erin Bibo is Deputy Chief of College and Career Programs at DCPS. "It gives our students a head start on college. They're earning college credits; sometimes up to six during their high school years," she offered.

DCPS students can take classes not only at Catholic University but also at Georgetown, George Washington, Howard and UDC Community College. Program coordinators say limiting dual enrollment to five college campuses starting this school year, gives students more peer support and a better chance at success.

Bibo continued, "We have a lot of McKinley students right now who are going to Howard and they go to office hours together, they talk to their professor together, and that's a really proven successful model."

According to DCPS, many of the 150 students participating in the tuition-free dual enrollment program this year are performing better than last year.

Seventeen-year-old Amina Vargas, also a senior at Duke Ellington, is taking Spanish at Howard University. "The professors there are way different than the teachers here. It really helps you become more organized, more mature, and it really makes you grow up a lot faster," she said.

The Dual Enrollment program is open to all high school students attending DC Public Schools.

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