MAYHEW – Shelley Rae Edwards could graduate from East Webster High School next spring with an honor none of her classmates and few high school graduates around the world can claim: a college degree.
Edwards, enrolled in East Mississippi Community College’s Dual Enrollment/Dual Credit program for high school students, still has a ways to go to achieve the coveted dual graduation. She’ll have to complete the four college courses she’s currently enrolled in for the summer, then take five courses each semester during her senior year in addition to her high school course work.
“When I signed up for four classes this summer, my counselor said, ‘If you take 15 hours the next two semesters you can graduate with an associate’s degree at the same time you graduate high school.’ And I’m one of those people that looking at a goal makes everything so much easier,” said Edwards.
Cindy Johnson, who heads the Dual Enrollment/Dual Credit program at EMCC, confirmed that Edwards would be the first student that she knew of to accomplish a dual graduation through EMCC. But she pointed out that, even if Edwards doesn’t achieve her degree before next summer, she won’t have far to go.
“Shelley began last summer and took one class. Then two classes the first semester of her junior year. The next semester she added three classes and four more this summer. That’s a full year of college credit before her senior year in high school. And that’s a huge accomplishment in itself,” said Johnson.
Edwards didn’t set out to become the record holder for EMCC Dual Enrollment credits. She simply wanted to take advantage of the $30-per-online class price to save time and money before she leaves for Ole Miss following high school graduation. But when she realized how well suited she was to online courses, she began racking up credits.
“It’s not for everyone. Online classes are a completely different world than the classroom. Instructions can be kind of vague. But most teachers are easy to work with through email. And it’s a lot easier because you set your own schedule as opposed to being in a certain class at a certain time,” said Edwards.
However, Edwards is the rare high school student disciplined enough to get all of her work completed on time without an instructor’s reminders. She admits she’ll get distracted and do some work at the last minute, but for the most part she maintains her schedule.
This summer, for instance, she’s devoted two days a week to completing all of her classwork. Beyond that, any time not spent at her summer job is free for normal summer break activities.
During the school year, she says it’s even easier to complete her college work because her mind is already set on classwork. Last year she maintained straight A’s, cheered on a state championship cheer squad and participated in the Beta Club and the student council – all while also earning 15 hours of college credit.
For more information about dual enrollment/dual credit opportunities at East Mississippi Community College, please contact Cindy Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit eastms.edu.