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Lisa Kochanowski
Freelance Writer
November 7, 2019 // Diocese

Marian grads start out ahead with dual credit courses 

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Lisa Kochanowski
Freelance Writer

At Marian High School in Mishawaka, students aren’t just prepared for college. Through a partnership with Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College, Marian offers a variety of classes that count as both college and high school credit, giving college-bound students the opportunity to experience and complete college-level coursework right in their high school classroom.

“The real benefit is that students complete the course for high school credit, but also get college credit simultaneously. For those students that attend colleges and universities that accept the dual credits, they are freer to select electives in the early years of college. Many of our students have been able to graduate early or add a major or minor area of study within the four-year college experience,” said Mark Kirzeder, principal at Marian. 

Provided by Marian High School 
Teacher Micah Niespodziany instructs seniors at Marian High School, Mishawaka, during an English dual credit class. Qualifying Marian students can earn college credit in English, physics and several other subject areas before high school graduation.

Dual-credit classes allow students a chance to get a leg up on their college careers. 

“Indiana state law requires that credit earned at any Indiana state-funded college or university must also transfer to any other state-funded college or university. Marian students are earning credits through Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana University and those credits are transferring by law to places like Ball State University, Indiana University and Purdue University,” noted Kirzeder. “Also, we know that from speaking with graduates that many times private colleges, both in and out of the state, accept these credits as well.” 

Thirty-five different dual credit courses are offered at Marian. Students have to fulfill certain requirements to be eligible for the classes. 

“Students must qualify to take courses as dual credit: There are a number of ways to do this, including achieving qualifying scores on ACT, SAT and PSAT,” Kirzeder explained. “Students can also qualify using an alternative assessment known as Accuplacer, as well as achieving a minimum grade-point average. After a student qualifies to take the course, they have to complete all required coursework according to the syllabus that has been preapproved by our dual credit partner.” 

Students aren’t the only ones who need to meet certain criteria, for the courses, though. Teachers also need specific accreditation to teach dual credit courses. 

“Teachers submit a resume, transcripts and (documented) experience to our dual credit partners for approval,” stated Kirzeder. “Once approved, the course also has to be approved. Teachers then have to submit a syllabus, samples of assignments, assessments, textbook, resources, etc.” 

The dual credit option has benefits for students and parents, he added.

“We hope that students taking dual credit courses are prepared for the college or university of their choice. We also hope that because they’re thoroughly prepared for the rigor of college coursework, that they won’t be required to take many of the remedial courses so many colleges and universities are having to offer incoming freshmen.

“For parents, we hope that this program is a value-added benefit to sending their students to Marian High School. We understand that paying tuition at a Catholic school can be a challenging choice for families,” acknowledged Kirzeder. “However, once parents see how much money they might potentially save by taking advantage of the dual credit program, we hope the choice becomes easier.”

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