Grayson College may soon offer a scholarship that would allow dual-credit students to receive their first class at the school on the house. The college’s board of trustees approved allocating $50,000 toward creating a pilot program for the scholarships during a recent meeting.
The board first discussed the potential of allowing dual-credit students to receive their first class for free last year as part of programs aimed at increasing the number of people with college education.
“If we are going to do anything for this graduating class, we need to do something and be able to market it and make sure people know about it,” Grayson College President Jeremy McMillen said. “This will allow us to see if this is really an incentive. Is it going to drive change? Is it going to catch people’s attention?”
Previously, McMillen said the idea to offer the first class for free for dual-credit students came out of conversations being offered to traditional students. Many students would already receive a class for free in the form of a college prep class, but that did not make sense for students who already have college credit, McMillen said.
Officials with the college said the program could help incentivize further education in multiple ways and help avoid what was described as “the summer melt” — where students lose the motivation to go to college during the summer break. By offering the course, it allows students to build momentum and an early commitment to continue their education in college.
Dean of Workforce Education Kim Williams said the program could also be used in conversations with students considering dual-credit courses. If the students know they could receive college credit, those students may be more likely to consider the courses in high school, she said.
In total, the college sees about 180 dual-credit students each year and retains about half for the first year of their college education, officials said.
In addition to the dual-credit students, the program would also be offered to articulated credit students who will receive college credit for courses taken in high school. McMillen described articulated credit students as those who took a high school course that meets the standards of a Grayson College course and is taught by an approved instructor.
“That class meets all the same outcomes as our class and we know the faculty is qualified to teach that course,” McMillen said, adding that the student must maintain an 80 grade in the course. “It was important for us to include those students because, again, we want to incentivize students that have done work toward college.”
Officials estimated the program, at current funding, could assist about 150 students based on a cost of $300 to $350 per course. As it would likely not be able to assist all eligible students, McMillen said it will likely be implemented on a first come, first served basis.
The initiative was one of several potential projects that college officials discussed last year. Another of these future focuses was on having a 100 percent admittance rate for all graduating seniors in the college’s service area. Since that was first discussed, a few smaller school districts, including Ector, have held parties where all of the senior class members have been accepted to the college.
“Just this morning, we had a class of more than 20 students visit campus as a part of this initiative,” McMillen said via text message. “Engagement with our schools has increased because of this effort.”