Nineteen SF Grads Finish College Before High School

Erin Bowe’s career goal is to become a marriage and family counselor. That typically takes a four-year undergraduate degree, two years of grad school, and state licensure. But Bowe has a jump start on that process.

The 18-year-old Archer resident (far left in photo) was one of 19 students who recently graduated from Santa Fe College — before graduating from high school. Not only is she two years ahead of the competition, she also got the first two years of college under her belt for free via the High School Dual Enrollment (HSDE) program – a definite advantage in the current economy.

 “I loved the Dual Enrollment program,” Bowe said. “I don’t have anything bad to say about it. I loved my counselor. She was always there to help. My parents are really proud and they’re telling people I graduated from college before I graduated from high school. It’s definitely helped me to further my goals. I’ll be 20 with a bachelor’s.”

Bowe attended Santa Fe on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and attended her high school, Family Life Academy in Archer, on Tuesday and Thursday. She qualified for a 100 percent Bright Futures award, which she’ll apply to college at Southeastern University in Lakeland when she starts her junior year in August.

Life on fast forward

For young people ready to move up out of high school and get on with their lives, enrolling in college as a high school junior or senior makes a lot of sense. Approximately 500 students a year sign on as full-time dual enrolled students, and about 150 choose to attend Santa Fe part time while continuing to take classes at their home high schools. Whether students go all the way and earn their AA degree, or just complete some college-level classes, they are still getting ahead.

High school students must apply to be accepted into Dual Enrollment. Transcripts are forever, so students need to be disciplined and mature enough to handle the more open schedule of college.

“We expect students to be mature and ready to handle the college environment,” said Linda Lanza-Kaduce, who has directed Santa Fe’s Dual Enrollment Program since 1990. “The student who comes here does need to be focused and ready to commit to their educational goals. They are shoulder to shoulder every day with college students.”

HSDE students do well at UF

Statistics show Santa Fe’s Dual Enrollment students rise to the challenge. Students who continue their education at the University of Florida perform exceptionally well: 97.7 percent of those students earned passing grades in their university courses, with 66.3 percent earning As, 24 percent earning Bs, and just 7.4 percent earning Cs, according to the July 2009 ZOOM Report produced by the Florida College System. Click here for a copy of the report (PDF).

Students enter Dual Enrollment from multiple avenues depending on their interests.

“We have academic dual enrollment, fine arts dual enrollment and career and technical dual enrollment,” said Lanza-Kaduce. “We do have high school faculty on campus who teach the required 11th and 12th grade high school courses to Alachua County public school students who are not eligible for all college coursework.”

Students can dual enroll full or part time

Those HSDE students who choose to continue a relationship with their high school can attend Santa Fe as a dual enrolled student while continuing to participate in clubs and athletics, prom, and walk with their class at their high school graduation.

In Chloe Campbell’s case, she didn’t want to remain in her high school community. The 18-year-old High Springs resident said she was over high school, early on: “I knew what I wanted to do and I wanted to get out and go for it.”

Campbell graduated from Santa Fe with an associate’s degree focusing on early childhood education. She plans to become a teacher and will attend the University of Tampa in the fall. 

“My mom’s a teacher and I’ve been raised with knowing what she’s done, and I’ve always looked up to her,” Campbell said. “It’s great following in her footsteps.” 

Applying to HSDE begins as early as January

So how do students enroll in HSDE? Lanza-Kaduce said Dual Enrollment’s excellent working relationship with the Alachua County School Board has allowed the program to flourish. Santa Fe sends out an information and application packet to all 10th- and 11th-grade Alachua County public school students.

“Students who are interested in the program need to return the application packet as soon as possible, and then they are given permission to take the College Placement Test,” explains Lanza-Kaduce. The test determines whether a student will be taking a full college load or a combination of high school and college coursework.

Recent HSDE grad Natasha Williams, 18, of Williston, is attending Florida State University where she plans to major in both political science and accounting. Law school at Columbia University is her preference after FSU, and eventually she’d like to become a business lawyer. She is also a Bright Futures student.

“I feel a little more advanced than most students, because I have already had the college experience,” Williams said. “I think the transition will be easier for me and I feel like I’m more prepared.”

Her advice for high school students considering dual enrolling?

“They should first research it and make sure it’s what they want to do. They have to stay focused and not go out there and play. If they stick to their goals, they can do anything. I did well the entire time.”

For more information about the program, please contact the High School Dual Enrollment Office at Santa Fe College, 395-5490.

CONTACT

  • Linda Lanza-Kaduce, director, High School Dual Enrollment, 352-395-5490
  • Julie Garrett, media relations coordinator, for help facilitating your story, 352-395-5430 (office) or 352-870-2924 (cell) or julie.garrett@sfcollege.edu