Replacing Summer Jobs for College Credit

By: Laura Rogers Email
By: Laura Rogers Email

Fewer teens are working this summer. A report published in USA Today shows less than half of all teens have summer jobs. The U.S. Labor Dept. says nearly 70-percent of teenagers had jobs in 1978.
That number has slowly dropped over the years and now stands at about 48-percent in 2007. While these figures are dropping the number of students enrolled in school during the summer has grown.

It used to be that most teenagers spent their summer break flipping burgers, but now many are hitting the books. Sixteen-year-old Andrew Dennis will enter his junior year of high school this fall, but he's extending his education into the summer months.

"I wanted to get a headstart on college and get three credit hours knocked out," Dennis said.

Western Kentucky University's dual-credit program gives high school students a chance to earn college credit while also completing their diploma requirements.

"This gives these kids a leg up. They get a chance to try a college class in high school, without putting out the big bucks for a semester," said Lisa Boswell, WKU Sociology Instructor.

Amelia Arritt has big goals. After graduating high school she plans to enter the Air Force Academy and one day become a surgeon. She enrolled in summer college courses to remain competitive with others her age.

"I was able to focus completely on the course and not have to worry about any interruptions," Arritt said.

Andrew and Amelia join a national trend of teenagers choosing to take classes, rather than take on summer jobs.

"Some of our students leave high school with 12, 15, even 18 hours of university credit," said DeWayne Neely, WKU Dual-Credit Specialist.

There are several reasons for the dual-credit program's growth. College courses give weighted grades so it can raise a student's G.P.A. Plus, it looks impressive on scholarship and admissions applications.

"Universities are looking at a lot more than just academics anymore. They're looking for a well-rounded student," Boswell said.

While the courses may prove a challenge, more students are finding it worth the extra effort.

"I can tell a difference in the workload and how much you have to study for tests. The tests are essays instead of multiple-choice," Dennis said.

The number of students in the dual-credit program at W.K.U has grown from 560 students in 2004 to more than 1400 students this past year.

For more information on the dual-credit program, click here.


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