CEDAR CITY — Cedar High School senior Sam Palmer is like most of his 18-year-old peers. He knows that college is a good investment but isn’t sure a four-year university is best.
Recently, he took a class in computer programming at Southwest Tech College. In the past, if he switched to a four-year college, he would be required to retake the class. A new partnership between Southern Utah University and Southwest Tech is changing that.
Under the dual enrollment program, if Palmer chooses to enroll at Southwest Tech for a certificate program, his credits will be accepted at SUU. If he starts at SUU and decides it isn’t the best option, he can switch to Southwest Tech and have all of his classes count.
Student needs are changing. Some high school seniors will enroll at an institution and graduate in four years, others need options. Nationally, there are 95 million people who have finished high school but have not finished college, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
“This is an excellent opportunity to further our mission as a dynamic teaching and learning community with a deep commitment to student success and developing opportunities leading students to productive careers,” SUU President Scott L. Wyatt said.
Through the dual enrollment program, all registered students of SUU are admitted to Southwest Tech and entitled to enroll in certificate programs and all Southwest Tech students in certificate programs are admitted to SUU and entitled to enroll in classes for credit.
The partnership developed in conversations between Wyatt and President Brennan M. Wood of Southwest Tech over the last few months, where they acknowledged the diverse needs of students. The technical college system in Utah has been developing articulation agreements and pathways of various types for the last 30 years.
“I appreciate Presidents Wyatt and Wood coming together in this unprecedented partnership focused on student success,” Dr. Dave Woolstenhulme, Utah commissioner of technical education, said. “This is a remarkable example of Utah’s forward-thinking approach to education delivery and is a huge win for the students and the economy of our state.”
The two campus communities are six blocks from each other and SUU and Southwest Tech have a history of cooperation developing a number of programs with articulated, stackable credentials.
The program is not intended to be a merger of the institutions but to provide, as far as reasonably possible, all advantages of SUU and Southwest Tech to the other institutions’ students as if the two institutions were one.
“Students will be served by multiple on-ramps and off-ramps,” Wood said. “We know that one size does not fit all in terms of post high school education, so this partnership gives students options.”
The program was recently boosted by a pledge of Gov. Gary Herbert to support the collaboration and Utah Legislature funding of $200,000.
A plan is in place to implement the dual enrollment program by Fall 2018. Both institutions will work to make the payment of tuition, financial aid, advising and other administrative services as seamless as possible for all students.
Written by Cordelle Morris, Southwest Tech.