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The magic of joint enrollment

On May 10, Brooks Mosley will graduate from the University of Georgia. Next October, she'll turn 21.

That's right: The 2005 Dacula alum is heading off to grad school at an age when most college kids are still sneaking into bars.

Behold the magic of joint enrollment.

You see, before Brooks even finished high school, she had already earned 31 college credits, an entire year's worth, by taking classes as a joint enrollment student at Georgia Perimeter College's Lawrenceville Campus.

But this column isn't really about Brooks (even though I told her dad it would be). It's about how others can do the same thing she did. Because over the years, thousands of JE students have passed through GPC on their way to UGA or Georgia Tech or wherever.

To qualify for the program, students just have to be rising high school seniors and meet the minimum requirements: a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale in academic courses, a 530 SAT reading score, and a 440 math score (530 if they plan to take college math).

Oh, and they also have to ignore all the false information out there, such as:

· Joint enrollment classes aren't "real" college classes. Actually, JE classes are exactly that - real college classes held (usually) on real college campuses.

In fact, most of the area colleges that offer joint enrollment, like GPC, are part of the University System of Georgia, which has common course numbers. That means English 1101 at GPC is the same course as English 1101 at UGA (or any other USG school) and transfers directly with no loss of credits.

· Advanced Placement is better. The truth is, for many students, AP courses are simply a lot more work than regular high school classes for a negligible payoff.

In theory, AP students who pass an end-of-course exam with a 3 or higher on a scale of 5 may get college credit for that course. In reality, many colleges won't accept less than a 4, especially in math and science. And the percentage of students making a 3 or higher is abysmally low: just over 50 percent statewide, and not much higher even in affluent areas.

JE students, on the other hand, automatically get college credit for any courses they pass - just as if they were already college freshmen.

· It's too late to apply. Not so. Donald Singer, GPC's JE coordinator, assures me that if students submit their application materials as soon as possible, he can still get them into fall classes on the Lawrenceville campus, where GPC will continue to serve JE students for at least another year. Even if they haven't taken the SAT, he says, they can still do so in April or (at the latest) May.

So give Professor Singer a call at 678-407-5220. Then maybe you too can graduate from college before you're old enough to drink.

Lawrenceville resident Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English and director of the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.