Encouraged by the adults around him to take dual credit college courses during his junior year at CAST Tech High School, Terrance Patrick felt reluctant to take on the added pressure and initially signed up for just one class.
Once he realized he could handle the work, though, he says he was quickly motivated to take more. Ultimately, he entered college with 36 credit hours completed — the equivalent of three semesters.
CAST Schools encourage all students to take college coursework, and at some campuses they can even earn enough college credits to graduate with an associate’s degree. CAST Tech, one of the CAST Schools, has an Early College Academy partnership with UTSA that allows students to take college courses for dual high school and college credit. As a result of this partnership for dual credit with UTSA, CAST Tech sent 19 students this year to UTSA, many in fields like computer science, computer engineering, data science and cybersecurity.
“Our dual credit strategy is to begin gradually, customize coursework to a student’s comfort level, and help them identify courses that are most likely to transfer, save money and lead to progress in their area of concentration,” says Jeanne Russell, executive director of CAST Schools.
“At a time when college costs are rising, using dual credit, which is free to high school students, to reduce both the cost and time that college takes, is one of the most powerful ways to offset college costs,” she says.
Hezron Perez, a CAST Tech alum who is in his second year of college at UTSA, will graduate in just two-and-a-half years, despite enrolling in the competitive major of computer engineering. “The best part about dual credit is that it saved me time that I can spend working in my field,” he says.
However, dual credit is not just for high-achieving students like Perez. Research conducted by Michael Villarreal, former director, and Han Bum Lee, special research associate at the UTSA Urban Education Institute, shows that successfully passing one dual credit course increases the likelihood of enrolling in college, completing college on time and reducing the cost of college.
Jonathan Rodriguez, a 2021 CAST Tech graduate, took some dual credit, and then won a global Adobe scholarship that covered the majority of his tuition at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where he is studying user experience (UX).
“Dual credit is the new financial aid,” he says. “I wish I had taken more dual credit, because not only would it save me money, it would save me years.”