Choosing a post-secondary option can be a big decision for high school students so the Dual Credit Program at Sheridan – where they can ‘try college on for size’ – is particularly appealing to some. Secondary students can take up to four courses at Sheridan, experience the college learning environment and earn high school credits at the same time.
In partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Dual Credit has been long-standing at Sheridan. It’s funded under the School-College-Work Initiative (SCWI) and reflects Sheridan’s academic philosophy – there’s no one-size-fits all approach to learning, and an individual’s educational journey can take many pathways. Students can take courses in 19 Sheridan program areas like performing and visual arts, police foundations, skilled trades, marketing, and animal care. Anyone is eligible to apply but priority is given to secondary students who, in completing their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and looking to make a successful transition to college and/or apprenticeship programs, are missing credits and could benefit from a new environment to earn them.
“They quickly learn that they have to take responsibility for their own learning but this change of pace becomes an exciting part of the experience” – Christine Pearson
SCWI Project Manager Christine Pearson has seen first-hand how students who may be nervous coming into the Dual Credit experience rise to the challenge. “They see the value in post-secondary education but are sometimes intimidated by what’s required of them at that level,” she says. “We provide them with resources, an orientation session and ongoing supports. They quickly learn that they have to take responsibility for their own learning but this change of pace becomes an exciting part of the experience.”
Brandon Mayhew, a Mississauga-area high school student, completed Introduction to Construction and Electrical Techniques courses at Sheridan’s Skills Training Centre in Oakville. He thrived in the hands-on learning environment, practicing skills rather than reading about them in a textbook. “It’s a great opportunity to see if it’s something you would want to go back to learn more about or enter into as a career,” says Mayhew. Now having graduated from high school, he’s taking time to decide what area he’ll pursue for full-time study. “When I figure it out I’ll be sure to take it at Sheridan because they gave me the best learning experience,” he says. “I actually went home at night with an appreciation of what I learned that day.”
“It’s a great opportunity to see if it’s something you would want to go back to learn more about or enter into as a career” – Brandon Mayhew
Graciel Manaig, a Dual Credit student at Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus, took Introduction to Drawing Systems and Colour Theory courses offered as part of the Art Fundamentals program. What stood out for her was the support from Sheridan professors and staff. “Throughout the semester professors like Peter Palermo continually pushed me further, allowing me to broaden my horizons and develop a deeper understanding of important key concepts,” says Manaig. “And Christine Pearson made the transition from a high school to college environment very friendly and welcoming.” Although the in-class requirements were at times challenging, she took on a more diligent approach to her studies and secured the ultimate reward – being accepted into Sheridan’s highly-competitive Bachelor of Animation program.
While building student independence is an important part of the Dual Credit experience, there is regular communication between Sheridan professors, Pearson and contacts at each student’s high school to make sure everyone is on track. These touch points ensure that all students are attending classes, meeting deadlines and abiding by Sheridan’s academic integrity standards. “I see our professors taking time to work one-on-one with Dual Credit students if they need the extra support and guidance,” says Pearson. “They’re truly supportive of this pathways opportunity and want all of their students to succeed.”
It’s perhaps this added level of support that makes Sheridan’s Dual Credit Program stack up well compared to provincial averages. For the period of January to June 2015, students in Sheridan’s program scored two points above the provincial success rate at 90% and had a retention rate of 92%. Sheridan’s ten-year history of hosting Dual Credit students has afforded it the opportunity to refine and develop the program over time.
“I see our professors taking time to work one-on-one with Dual Credit students if they need the extra support and guidance” – Christine Pearson
What’s more, all Dual Credit course fees, classroom supplies and transportation to and from campus is funded by SCWI. Students have access to the many services on campus including accessible learning, advisement, counselling, and career support. In-class, students make use of Sheridan’s state-of-the-art labs, workspaces, software and equipment.
To cap off the Dual Credit experience at the end of term, Pearson hosts an event for all participating students. She feels it’s an important opportunity to celebrate a dedication to learning with students and their families. Awards are distributed and students in visual arts programs showcase their work in an exhibit. It’s an occasion that marks another milestone in these students’ educational journeys, and for many, is the pathway that leads to full-time learning at Sheridan.
Pictured at top of page: Gracial Manaig in class at Sheridan.
Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan