Imagine earning a high school diploma and a college diploma at the same time. Alizza Schremp didn’t just imagine it, she did it. Alizza graduated from Livingston Academy High School in May of 2018. She also graduated magna cum laude from Volunteer State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree in University Studies. While at Livingston Academy, Alizza enrolled in Vol State’s dual enrollment program. Dual enrollment allows students to earn high school credit and college credit for the same course. The courses are taught by Vol State faculty on the college campus, at the high school, or online.
“The counselors at Livingston Academy talk to students about dual enrollment,” Alizza said. Alizza already knew about dual enrollment from her grandmother, Cathy Ramsey, who was an adjunct math instructor at Vol State for many years. “Since I was little, I’d accompany my grandma to the Livingston campus where I’d wait for her to finish teaching her math classes. Occasionally, I’d sit in while she was tutoring a student, so I was exposed to college very early and was comfortable in that setting.” Alizza took her first dual enrollment class at Vol State the summer following her sophomore year of high school. “I decided to take one class to test it,” she said. “I took economics and I made a B. I usually get As, so it made me realize college is harder than high school and I’d have to work harder.”
That fall, during her junior year of high school, Alizza enrolled in several dual enrollment courses. “My grandma recognized that I was capable and she encouraged me to take enough dual classes to get an associate degree. Once I saw how well my dual classes were going, I decided to push forward and go for my degree. College classes were more challenging and in depth, but I liked that.” Alizza describes community college as a middle ground. “College can be intimidating, but community college makes the transfer from high school to a university much easier. Community college campuses and class sizes are often smaller, so it’s not so overwhelming.”
Alizza is currently enrolled at Tennessee Tech where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in math. “I knew that I wanted to go to Tennessee Tech and pursue my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “That’s why I chose to get my associate degree in university studies.” University studies allow students who desire to earn a baccalaureate degree at a four-year university to complete the first two years at Vol State. The program offers courses that transfer to participating colleges and universities. “Most all of my Vol State credits transferred to Tennessee Tech, so I will earn my bachelor’s degree much sooner,” Alizza said.
Alizza encourages high school students to take dual enrollment classes. “It’s hard. You have to be responsible and get your assignments done, read your emails and be your own teacher…kind of. It’s not the right thing for everyone to do, but if you want to push yourself a little harder it’s worth it.” Dual enrollment grants are available to help with the cost of dual enrollment classes. “The dual grants give students, especially those who can’t afford to pay, the opportunity to take classes and get a head start on college,” she said.
Students interested in taking dual enrollment classes should talk to their high school counselors. Vol State partners with high schools in Clay, Jackson, Overton, Pickett, and Putnam counties to provide dual enrollment courses.