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Career and College Promise Deserves Wider Recognition

If prompted, Joseph Wilson, a senior at Chapel Hill High School (CHHS), will eagerly describe the many benefits of taking community college courses as part of the North Carolina dual-enrollment program, Career and College Promise (CCP). As a member of the CTE Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) at CHHS, Wilson is in the Network Engineering Pathway, offered through Cisco Academy. Last spring, he completed the CCP online course, SEC 110 (Security Concepts), and he’s now taking NET 225/226 (Routing and Switching) online.

“It’s great taking CCP courses online,” Wilson said. “It’s very flexible and I can work on my own time.” He said he really appreciates the virtual, simulated labs and especially enjoys the discussion forums online, working on course projects with a variety of people, including those already working in the industry, from Time-Warner and Fortnite. “There are definitely lots of cool people to interact with through the course.”

So what is Career and College Promise? 

It’s a state- wide program that allows qualified high school students to take college CTE and core academic classes, tuition free, while they are still in high school, providing them with an accelerated path into college or the workplace. Students who successfully complete college courses earn college credit they can use in universities and community colleges. Students can often earn dual credit, meeting high school graduation requirements with college courses.

CCP programming at CHHS Many high school students take CCP classes online, offered through the numerous participating community colleges across the state. This year, CHCCS students have on-site access to a few classes: Durham Tech offers BIO168 Anatomy and Physiology I at East Chapel Hill High School (ECHHS) and a C-sharp programming class at CHHS. Students at ECHHS can also take photography or videography on site, taught by an instructor from Alamance Community College.

Durham Tech liaison, Abigail McAlister, works at CHHS, ECHHS and Carrboro High School (CHS) to serve as adviser to all CCP students in those high schools. When she talks to school counselors, students and parents, she emphasizes the ways in which CCP not only saves money and accelerates college credit and industry certifications, she highlights the degree to which dual-enrollment serves as an equity support.

“CCP allows students to have a leg up,” McAlister said, “because students learn how to be in college while they’re still in high school.” She enumerated the lessons students learn, from how to utilize an adviser like McAlister, how to undertake the process of enrolling in college classes and how to succeed in classes taught online or by college instructors, weaning themselves away from the more consistent supports provided by high school teachers.

“I see CCP as a college access program,” McAlister said, “and I would love to see more students take advantage of dual-enrollment.” She said that two student groups are especially well-served: undocumented students, as well as first generation students with little family knowledge of the college experience.

For students like Wilson at CHHS, the opportunity to take multiple college-level courses online allows them to sharpen their focus on a professional track before they even graduate from high school. 

Students who would like to learn more about their CCP options should email McAlister, who keeps office hours at all three large high schools: mcalistera@durhamtech.edu.