July 28, 2020
Garrett College Dual Enrollment program offers many benefits to Garrett County high school students
NHS graduate, parent share their experiences, program benefits
Lauren Derato's experience is a perfect example of what can be accomplished through Garrett College's dual enrollment program.
A 2019 graduate of Northern Garrett High School and a resident of Accident, Derato is currently enrolled in the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland at College Park (UMD). In as little as four years, she will have taken five years of college classes thanks in part to GC's dual enrollment program.
The program, which is a collaborative partnership with Garrett College and Garrett County Public Schools, allows Garrett County students the opportunity to obtain college credit at a substantially lower cost while in high school.
As a high school student in the computer science pathway, Derato first learned about the dual enrollment opportunity from guidance counselors at NHS while scheduling classes.
"Intro to Cybersecurity was the final class I needed to complete my pathway and it was offered as a dual enrolled class with Mr. [Richard] Lewis," stated Lauren. "Once I found out about the other dual enrolled courses available at such a reasonable cost, I added several additional classes, including nutrition, college algebra, and English 101 and 102."
According to Lauren's mother, Sandy Derato, the dual enrollment program was a great fit for her daughter.
"Going off to college is a big transition," stated Sandy. "Starting to ease into the college process with dual enrollment classes proved to be a huge help. College classes at Garrett gave Lauren an introduction to college-level course work without the added pressure of moving away from home for the first time."
While in high school, Lauren took several of Garrett's dual enrolled courses, making it possible for her to not only earn college credit, but also reduce the required number of general education credits she needed and the amount of time to complete her degree.
"I was able to take up to three additional college classes each semester, on top of my full high school schedule," stated Lauren, who was also the 2019 valedictorian of her graduating class. "I had a mixture of both online classes and classes where my GC professor would come to the high school to teach the class. By taking online classes, I was able to work on these classes on my own time."
Courses taken at Garrett College directly transferred to the University of Maryland, another added benefit of the program.
"The majority of my classes transferred better than the credits for my AP classes," noted Lauren.
Sandy said the value of taking dual enrolled classes in high school has certainly left a lasting impact on them both.
"We did not realize the value of these classes until we could see how Lauren's schedule was impacted at UMD orientation," explained Sandy. "She already had numerous courses and as a result, she was able to begin taking classes in her major and try some other classes that she was interested in without impacting her ability to graduate in four years."
Additionally, she really enjoyed taking classes taught by GC's professors and the support she received while studying at Garrett.
"[Mathematic Professor] Tim Foster was my favorite professor at Garrett and his classes were always entertaining and engaging," she said. "I also appreciate Mr. [Jack] DuBose's [Professor of English] thoughtful discussions in English Literature and Language. [Director of Admissions] Melissa Wass was also a great help when registering for classes and learning about the options of the dual enrollment program in more depth."
Like many students, Lauren also experienced challenges that occur while balancing the responsibilities that come with high school, college-level courses, and participating in extra-curricular activities.
"Lauren was highly involved in the GaCo Robotics team and several other activities outside of school. Because of this, she was able to enhance her time management and responsibility skills to better prepare her for UMD," explained Sandy. "With many of her classes being online, it required her to juggle multiple deadlines, as the timeframe for completing college coursework assignments was different than her high school classes."
Presently, Lauren is majoring in business information systems and economics as a second major at the University of Maryland and was also accepted into the rigorous Quest Honors Program.
"I entered UMD with almost enough credits to be a sophomore," stated Lauren. "I have the flexibility to pursue any major, add a second major, and even graduate early. The courses at Garrett were considered honors classes, which also helped boost my high school GPA for college applications."
What's more, she is considering entering a master's program that would allow her to graduate with an MBA in five years, which is possible because of her participation in the dual enrollment program.
"I did not realize it then, but I am now so much farther ahead in completing my college degree than many of my peers," Lauren said. "We have an opportunity in Garrett County to take college classes for an affordable price whereas students in other counties pay substantially more, making it difficult for them to afford the classes available to us.
I am so grateful for dual enrollment classes and all I have accomplished because of them."
From a parental perspective, her mother wholeheartedly agrees.
"College is only part schoolwork – it is an opportunity to build relationships, find future business contacts, and help find your future career," noted Sandy. "Encourage your student to explore and start trying college courses early in high school that may interest them, and provide support by assisting them with time management skills. The opportunity is definitely there!"
For more information on high school dual enrollment opportunities at Garrett College, please contact the Office of Admissions at 301-387-3044 or visit https://www.garrettcollege.edu/dual-enrollment.php.