Dothan City Schools Jump Starting Careers with Dual Enrollment

Jump starting careers

Cameron Payne isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. And the Dothan City Schools system is happy to let him and like-minded students indulge their passion for hands-on work in its vocational dual enrollment programs. Cameron Payne: Dual Enrollment Student

Several of Payne’s family members picked up the mechanic’s trade in the military, and Payne grew up around folks doing hard, honest and rewarding work. As Payne grew closer to completing high school, he began considering pursuing a career in auto mechanic work. When he heard that Dothan High offered a dual enrollment course in automotive technology, signing up for the course was a no-brainer.

“I like that it gives us an early start, so we can complete some courses early on and get into the workforce sooner,” he said.

Dual enrollment courses allow students to earn simultaneous college and high school credit for college-level work. Students take the courses to complete core academic or career tech courses while they’re in high school, which often allows them to save money by shortening their time in college. In addition to the financial advantage dual enrollment provides, the program also allows students to get accommodated with the increased rigor of college courses. About 165 students in the Dothan City Schools are taking dual enrollment courses in the 2019-2020 academic year.

“We’re giving them an opportunity to gain credits and take courses, so when they graduate they’re going to be ahead of everyone who didn’t take advantage of this opportunity,” Chris Duke, director of Career Technical Education & Workforce Development for the Dothan City Schools, said.

Students typically pay for dual enrollment courses, although some may obtain scholarships. Students taking core academic courses usually take them from local community colleges, allowing them to save money as the same courses usually cost more at four-year institutions. 

Dothan High partners with Wallace Community College to offer academic and career tech dual enrollment courses. Grants cover the cost of the program for students taking career tech courses and some low-income students. A few academic courses are taught at Dothan High, but the majority of dual enrollment courses are taught at Wallace. The career tech courses are taught at Dothan Technology Center, with the support of Wallace Community College and Alabama Aviation College, a division of Enterprise State Community College.

Payne said the program has provided him with practical training that he’ll need on the job. He’s learned some auto repair basics such as changing brakes, tire rotation, and spark plug replacement, and had the opportunity to use diagnostic tools to analyze engine problems.

Duke said providing students with a head start on academic and vocational training will help meet local needs for skilled workers. With regard to the program’s vocational offerings, Duke said the system identified automotive and aviation courses as training programs needed by local industry to fill their need for skilled workers.  

“We know that both of these programs will provide opportunities for students to be successful and work in these industries and make good money,” he said.

Click the below video to learn more about dual enrollment.