More freshmen enrolling with prior credit

Kylie Carlson

The path for incoming freshmen may be changing as 44.5 percent of first time, first year freshmen enrolled with previously earned college credit hours, according to WKU Enrollment Management.

Students are getting many of their credit hours through high school offered opportunities, such as dual credit and Advanced Placement courses. Many of these courses are offered through the high schools, either online or taught by existing high school teachers with the right credentials.

Brian Meredith, WKU associate vice president for enrollment management, said Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Southcentral Community and Technical College, and Owensboro Community and Technical College are the leading dual credit schools that incoming freshmen are receiving credit from.

“Students are bringing in credits from all over, whether it be WKU or other higher education institutions,” Meredith said. “The old days of a student graduating high school in May and coming into college with zero credit hours, that is kind of fading.”

There is one big benefit Meredith said he is seeing among the students coming in with college credit hours, even as few as six or nine hours.

“There is a very positive by-product that comes with students bringing in hours, and that is that these students have eased into the college process a little earlier,” Meredith said. “They are more comfortable taking the classes, and when they finally come to the Hill, it really prepares them for being successful students and gives them a leg up.”

Sharon Hunter, WKU director of strategic enrollment management and retention support, also believes students bringing in credit hours is a positive thing.

“All of the post-secondary education institutions in Kentucky got together with the state and said, ‘we will accept this credit,'” Hunter said, adding Kentucky schools are now offering the opportunity for easily transferable credits.

Meredith said some students in the incoming class had enough credits to qualify for associate degrees.

In 1999, only two first-time students had enough credit hours to enroll at WKU as sophomores. In the fall of 2016, 133 first-time students enrolled at WKU as sophomores. Also in the fall of 2016, 22 first-time students enrolled at WKU as juniors, according to data provided by Hunter.

Meredith said as students are enrolling with more credit hours, it is not only helping them graduate quicker, but it is also boosting university retention as well.

“As we continue to see these students’ hours grow and increase, it will also positively feed our retention,” Meredith said. “Now they’re getting to graduation faster, but they are still getting to come to campus and experience college, so this is a very positive effect that colleges and universities are experiencing right now.”

Reporter Kylie Carlson can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on twitter @kentuckylie.