JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Bharat Sanders will receive his associate's degree in mathematics from Perimeter College May 3. Three weeks later, he will receive his high school diploma from Johns Creek High School. That is the power of dual enrollment, Sanders says.
Sanders, 17, claims the dual enrollment program is superior to taking Advanced Placement courses in high school because AP credits are not always accepted by a student's college of choice. Dual enrollment has two paths. One lets the student earn real college credits while in high school. It's called Accel.
The other program, Move On When Ready, lets the student take courses at college (and the state pays the tuition) while earning the high school credits for that diploma. The Move On program is the path Sanders has taken. He will attend Georgia Tech next semester, most likely as a junior.
"My dad estimated the family saved about $140,000 by getting into the Move On program," Sanders said. "So it has been a great investment."
Sanders has been attending Georgia Perimeter College, which currently has more than 900 students on dual enrollment program.
Sanders has been such a proponent and spokesman for the dual enrollment programs, he has even conducted a seminar at Spruill Oaks Library in Johns Creek to talk to students about the advantages of dual enrollment.
Bharat Sanders says dual enrollment has given him time to do the things he wants to do, such as give children piano lessons. (click for larger version)
"I think dual enrollment is the wave of the future because the kids get to take college classes from college professors that are more qualified," he said. "And you get the benefits of being in a college environment.
"I've learned so many life skills such as time management and a better work ethic because college teachers expect you to be responsible for your own work," Sanders said.
He also likes the college semester system which lets him take the equivalent of two AP courses in the time he would have to take one if he were still in high school.
"So you get double the amount of college credit," he said.
Sanders said he has not missed the social life at high school because he has been able to enjoy the events and the friends he has made on the Perimeter campus. There are free athletic events, plays, concerts and a circle of friends who share the same interests.
"You are still allowed to participate in the sports and other events at your high school, but I didn't miss that. I found social life in college to be so much better because I have been able to learn how to interact with people outside my own age group, and there are tons of clubs and things you can join," he said.
"I've just learned to grow a bit more in that way."
Sanders was even the group leader of one of his classes when most of the other students were "about 20 years older, and some had kids."
He acknowledges dual enrollment is not for every student, but for those students who are taking AP classes, he says dual enrollment is a better way to go.
Sanders says the program doesn't get much play from counselors at the high schools yet. He heard about it from his neighbor, Cynthia Kozak.
"Her daughter was doing a couple of classes at Perimeter. And she helped me a lot to get started in the program and advised me. She actually has done more for me than my counselor at school," he said. "She's been a godsend to me."
At the seminar, he said he just wanted to make sure other students understood the program and that there was an alternative to staying up until 2 a.m. working on AP projects.
He said he has not only gotten a lot out of dual enrollment, he has won awards and been recognized for his achievements while at Perimeter. He still hangs with old friends at Johns Creek High, but he has also found time to the things he wants to do.
He now gives piano lessons to children on the instrument he loves to play. He has also gotten an internship with a "neuro-feedback" center in Atlanta that will give him experience in his chosen field. He plans to major in biomedical engineering and go on to medical school to be a neurologist.
"Just getting ahead on my career and my experience has been the big thing. With APs, I would never have had that time. And having so much experience on my resume means a lot on my college application as well," he said.
Sanders says he wants anyone with questions about the program to feel free to email him because the schools are asking students to enroll in March. He is at email@example.com.