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Pellissippi State's Dual Enrollment Program

When Brittany Blum was in high school, she wanted to be a dancer.

She signed up to take dual enrollment courses through Pellissippi State Technical Community College to get a head start on college.

Dual enrollment allows qualified high school juniors and seniors to take college-level courses.

“Initially,” said Natasha Blum, her mother, “Brittany wanted to get a head start and get through college quickly, because she wanted to be a dancer and those careers are short-lived.”

Once she became involved in the program, though, Brittany’s academic goals grew loftier. Now she is finishing her first year as a premed student at the University of Tennessee.

 “When she took a biology course at Pellissippi State,” said her mother, “she said, ‘I really like this. I like academics, and I think I might want to be a doctor.’ It changed her whole world. I think [dual enrollment] is a great experience for kids.”

And thanks to taking several courses through the program, Brittany already has enough college credit hours to be a UT sophomore.

“My younger daughter Chandler [a high school sophomore] wants to do it, too,” Natasha Blum said.

High school students, including home-schoolers, who pursue dual

enrollment must have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher to qualify. For general education courses like English, math, history or science, they also have to score 19 or better on the reading, math and English sections of the ACT.

Previously, students could take dual enrollment courses only if their high school offered and gave credit for similar courses. But now, thanks to a new directive by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, they can enroll in college classes only—and receive up to $300 in grant money in the process.

 “[Dual enrollment] was a wonderful experience for us,” said Terrie West, whose daughter Erin is now a sophomore in education at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City.

“It was a blessing once she got into Carson-Newman,” she said. “Erin feels like she has stayed on track to graduate in four years because of having had the two dual enrollment classes in English.”

Not surprising, Erin was apprehensive about what to expect.

“But she got lots of encouragement from her instructor,” said Terrie West.

“I think Erin really felt like she had a connection, and she even recommends it to her friends now.”