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Bergen County High Schools Partner with College

Author: Larry Hlavenka/Wednesday, April 23, 2014/Categories: Bergen College

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PARAMUS, N.J. – During the 2013-14 academic year, and through the Bergen Community College dual enrollment program, 752 Bergen County high school juniors and seniors from 27 public school districts embraced the opportunity to earn college credits without having to leave their high school campuses.

The program represents Bergen’s involvement in what has become a national trend – the National Center for Educational Statistics recently found more than two million students engaged in similar programs at two- and four-year schools across the U.S. At Bergen, dual enrollment has grown each year since its 2010 inception when schools like the Bergen County Technical Schools – Paramus/Teterboro, Fair Lawn High School and Ridgewood High School signed on. Participation in the program grew 38 percent from 2012-13 to 2013-14, now counting Lyndhurst High School, Mahwah High School and Northern Highlands Regional High School among the partners.

Education nonprofit Jobs for the Future found in a 2012 study of 30,000 Texas high school graduates that 54 percent of students who took dual enrollment courses earned college degrees – compared with only 37 percent of non-dual enrollment students.

In order to lead a dual enrolled class, teachers must hold a master’s degree in the subject taught and adhere to college-level curriculum standards set by Bergen officials like David Eichenholtz, Ed.D., associate dean of college/high school partnerships, who oversee the program. 

“If college credits are awarded, these need to be college-level classes,” he said. “We have a responsibility to make sure the instruction and learning level match the rigor set for students enrolled in an associate degree program at Bergen.”

Classes offered as part of the program span traditional college-level general education courses such as English Composition I, Introduction to Chemistry and General Psychology that transfer to most colleges and universities. Some schools even offer career-specific classes like Drafting I and Introduction to Electronics Technology I.

To enroll in courses, students pay half of the standard in-county tuition rate at the College, which contributes to the value of the program. Once they successfully fulfill the course requirements, their college transcript will include credits in the classes certified by Bergen.

“From any perspective you look at this, it’s a home run,” Eichenholtz said. “Students and their parents can save money on their future college tuition bills, students receive a better high school experience by being challenged with college-level work, students improve their chances of graduating from college and, suddenly, the student receives credits from their local college and they’re ahead of the curve before they’re ever a ‘freshman’.”

Dual enrollment represents one of five college-high school partnership initiatives spearheaded by Bergen – including programs focusing on online courses and assisting students who require remediation in certain subjects. 

Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu) based in Paramus is a public two-year coeducational college, enrolling nearly 17,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip J. Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields.

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