Dual Enrollment on a sharp rise at Wallace State

Actress and former Wallace State Community College Dual Enrollment student Morgan Smith speaks to Wallace State students at an April 2015 appearance at the college. (Wallace State)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – With a record number of high school students participating in dual enrollment classes with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS), leaders of the state’s community colleges gathered in Birmingham recently to discuss plans to boost student success.

More than 27,000 Alabama high school students use dual enrollment to earn college-level credit at one of the state’s community colleges while still attending high school. That’s a 65% increase in the number of dual enrollment students at Alabama community colleges since 2015. The increase is among the largest enrollment increases in the nation.  

“Dual enrollment is a great opportunity for high school students to get a head start on training or a four-year degree. With dual enrollment, some students even graduate with their associate degree from an Alabama community college before graduating from high school,” said ACCS Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker. “We’re fortunate that Alabama is among the nation’s leaders in dual enrollment, and that continued support from legislators gives us an opportunity to extend this benefit to even more young people.”  

Wallace State Community College had the third highest dual enrollment population in the state during the 2021-2022 academic year. With nearly 50 high school and home school partners in Cullman, Blount, and surrounding areas, Wallace State serves students at their high schools as well as through the Fast Track Academy, Career Ready, and Fine and Performing Arts programs on campus.

Stacey Sivley, director of dual enrollment and recruiting at Wallace State, credits several factors on the increase, including funding through Workforce Development funds from the state, affordability compared to four-year institutions, and increased awareness and recruiting efforts. 

“Wallace State offers dual enrollment options in many different formats that make it convenient for students to participate,” Sivley said. “They can take classes at their local high school, online and on campus at Wallace State. We also offer a wide variety of program options, including academics for students looking to transfer to a four-year university and health science and applied technology options for those wanting a quicker pathway into the workforce.” 

In more than 20 years of Dual Enrollment offerings at Wallace State, the college has seen graduates earn careers in nearly every imaginable profession. Actress Morgan Smith, who is best known as “Red, the Wendy’s Girl,” attended Wallace State as a Dual Enrollment student before transferring to Birmingham-Southern University. She’s gone on to act in theatre, film, and television, including roles on “Veep” and “Messiah.” 

Abigail Long started the Fast Track program at Wallace State the summer of her junior year at Hanceville High School and earned an associate degree from the paralegal program before transferring to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 2019.

“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” said Long, who just completed a master’s degree in social work at UT and will begin law school there in August. She is also the head majorette and feature twirler for the UT Pride of the Southland Majorette Line.

“Having had dual enrollment pushed me and made be able to do that college-level coursework on my own and really set me up for success in college,” Long said. “I was able to graduate with my bachelor’s and my master’s all with a 4.0 because I was able to learn adequately how to study through Fast Track, how to do better with time management, all of these things that really set me up for success.” 

Heading into law school, Long said she also feels prepared because of the Paralegal degree earned at Wallace State.  

“Having the option to pursue that paralegal degree and get hands-on experience in the legal field was absolutely amazing,” she said. “It gave me so many connections in the legal field and really a lot of that hands-on experience.” 

Wallace State’s Dual Enrollment program accepts students who are currently in the 10th, 11th or 12th grades in both public and private schools. More information is available at www.wallacestate.edu/deoptions , by email dual2degree@wallacestate.edu or by calling 256-352-8241.