Polk State serves nearly 3,000 students each year through its dual-enrollment, early-admission, and collegiate high school programs, providing a variety of accelerated-learning and cost-saving opportunities for students and their families.
Dual-enrollment and early-admission options allow Polk County students from all public secondary schools, most area private high schools, and home-education programs to take college courses and earn credit toward both their high school diplomas and college degrees, often resulting in the attainment of their Polk State Associate in Arts degrees at no cost to them. Additionally, students enrolled in Polk State’s three charter high schools complete requirements for both their associate degrees and high school diplomas simultaneously while on one of the College’s campuses.
Polk State’s dual-enrollment, early-admission, and collegiate students saved more than $4.7 million in tuition and fees in 2018-2019, and students within these programs tout the benefits of attending Polk State during high school, explaining that the opportunity positions them for academic and financial success.
“The cost savings and ability to jumpstart my higher education has been a huge opportunity for me,” said Emari Craft, who was homeschooled through the 11th grade and is now enrolled at Kathleen High School while taking dual-enrollment courses at the College.
“I encourage students to take advantage of the opportunities at Polk State to expand their learning, save money, and get a head start on their futures.”
— Emari Craft, dual-enrolled student
Craft plans to study Communications at a university with a Florida Bright Futures Scholarship but explained that the ability to “get a year out of the way” has provided beneficial experience, helping her navigate the college environment, communicate with professors, and manage her time.
“I love it,” she exclaimed. “I encourage students to take advantage of the opportunities at Polk State to expand their learning, save money, and get a head start on their futures.”
Simeon Newman, a senior at Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School, also enrolled hoping to gain experience on a college campus and, as he explains, “take responsibility for my learning and my future.”
More than 55 percent of the 2019 graduates from the three charter schools achieved their degrees, with the average collegiate graduate completing 53 college credits out of the 60 required for a two-year transferrable degree toward a baccalaureate.
Newman plans to graduate with his diploma and degree in 2020.
“Polk State continues to challenge me and has allowed me to mature, make conscious decisions about my education, and take advantage of opportunities outside of the classroom that have helped me grow into a well-rounded person,” he said.
Newman is President of the Chain of Lakes Chapter of the National Honor Society, as well as an active member of the Science Club, Key Club, and Academic Team. He plans to pursue a baccalaureate degree in Chemical Engineering at Florida State University.
“I encourage students to take advantage of opportunities presented to them because you never know when you’ll have those opportunities again,” he said. “Polk State has allowed me to challenge myself, save money, and become more independent. I could not be more grateful for the opportunities I have been given.”
“Polk State has allowed me to challenge myself, save money, and become more independent. I could not be more grateful for the opportunities I have been given.”
— Simeon Newman, Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School student
Due to the charter agreements between Polk State College and Polk County Public Schools, students are selected through a lottery system to attend the collegiate high school programs, which have space limitations. Dual enrollment and early admission serve as viable options for students who do not secure spots at the College’s campus-based high schools.
Riley Williamson, an early-admission student who takes college courses full time and is completing her high school requirements at Auburndale High School, explained that she did not let it deter her when she did not receive admission into a collegiate program.
“I knew I wanted to achieve my degree as early and as cost-effectively as possible,” said Williamson, who plans to graduate a year ahead of schedule with her Associate in Arts and high school diploma in May 2020. The 17-year-old has been accruing college credits through dual enrollment since she was a freshman in high school and plans to study Mechanical Engineering at a four-year university.
“I want students to know that this opportunity is here for them,” Williamson said. “They shouldn’t be afraid to take this route if they are willing to put in the work. It will pay off.”