Dual enrollment proves beneficial for students

Molly Smith, Sports Editor

Dual enrollment is a path out of the ordinary that has allowed many students to succeed in an environment outside of their hometown high school. It is a resource open for many WA students, allowing them to take college courses in place of classes at WA and still get credits. 

Hannah Ditmars enrolled in dual enrollment through Middlesex Community College this year. (provided by Hannah Ditmars)

For seniors Hannah Ditmars and Katelyn Ditto, this is where they found their path. Instead of attending WA for senior year, they decided to take college classes at Middlesex Community College and Nashua Community College, respectively, so that they could graduate well ahead of their peers.

For Ditmars, after hearing about the WA reopening plan, she decided that the dual enrollment option would be best for her this year.

“I didn’t have this planned over the summer or established in the spring. I went about this very quickly and just jumped straight on board once I realized it was a do-able option,” Ditmars said.

After speaking with her guidance counselor Karen Halloran, Ditmars enrolled in classes at Middlesex in the fall semester. Her classes included American government, statistics, English composition and sociology. As for the sprint semester, she took courses relating to business, enrolling in macroeconomics, intro-to-business, business law, precalculus for business, and accelerated public speaking.

Even though it is her senior year, Ditmars has been able to stay motivated throughout the year due to the higher stakes that come from taking college level classes.

“I have been working really hard to keep [my motivation] up. […] The stakes are higher in some regards, since these classes are affecting my WA GPA as [they are graded as] AP level courses. Also, my grades this year will affect my ability to transfer to the Isenberg School of Business at Umass Mass Amherst after next year,” Ditmars said.

Because of Ditmars’ motivation and dedication to her studies over the last year, she was chosen as one of three MCC students to be a part of the the 2021 All-Massachusetts Academic Team for Outstanding Two-Year College Students. This award is meant to showcase the top students at Massachusetts community colleges.

Many teachers here at WA have noticed her strong work ethic and desire to do well in school, including orchestra teacher Ken Culver and English teacher Rebecca Ingerslev.

“She is one of the most passionate and action-oriented students I have met in my twenty-two years of teaching. One thing that is clear about Hannah is she cares about others, both her classmates and her teachers,” Ingerslev said.

As for next year Ditmars, plans to continue her studies at MCC before later transferring to the Isenberg School of Business at UMass Amherst. There, she will plan to graduate with a bachelors in business with the class of 2024, one year ahead of schedule.

Although there were many ups and downs of high school for Ditmars, she is happy she was able to experience both WA and dual enrollment.

“High school can be really difficult and a really big learning period for people, so I would say that finding your people is the key to thriving. Whether that’s through a club community, sport community, or an after school activity, you’re just having someone in your corner at all times. That could be a teacher, your guidance counselor, or a close friend. It’s going to make you feel so supported within the walls Westford Academy,” Ditmars said.

As for Ditto, the Covid-19 pandemic and WA’s reopening plan heavily swayed her decision to do dual enrollment. She wanted to set herself up for the long run in hopes of dual enrollment better suiting her future.

Senior Katelyn Ditto poses for a photo (Provided by Katelyn Ditto)

At Nashua Community College, Ditto took nine classes, including statistics 1 and 2, biology, sociology, psychology, precalculus, criminology, college composition and anatomy/physiology 1.

She was enrolled in a hybrid schedule at NCC, where one day a week was through zoom and one day would be in person.

“I really liked that set-up rather than being in school for one week and home for the rest,” Ditto said.

Because of Ditto’s dual enrollment year, she will be able to graduate Colby Sawyer College with the class of 2024.

Although Ditto missed seeing her teachers and classmates from WA every day, she felt like getting out of ‘high school’ early was beneficial for her future.

Ditto believes that dual enrollment is a great tool for students who want a trial run of what to expect in college. Although taking on a college load as a senior in high school is challenging, she thinks it is definitely manageable.

“I would highly recommend those who have slightly considered dual enrollment to look into it and see if it’s the best fit for them. […] I am extremely happy with my decision,” Ditto said.