Two ways to success

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Two enrollment agreements are better than one.

It’s been proven time and time again: A shorter, clearer path for students means a higher chance for success. Agreements between community colleges and four-year institutions can help clear that path. In Illinois, Oakton Community College and Elmhurst College have signed two agreements that also will help shorten the path to a degree.

One agreement guarantees admission at Elmhurst for qualifying Oakton students. This type of transfer agreement is becoming more commonplace. The second agreement, however, is a little unique: It creates a dual enrollment program that will enable students to concurrently pursue an associate degree from Oakton and a bachelor’s degree from Elmhurst while paying Oakton prices.

“The agreements make it easier for students to earn their bachelor’s degrees and allow them to take courses concurrently at both Elmhurst and Oakton at the Oakton tuition rate, saving them both time and money,” Oakton President Joianne L. Smith said during a signing ceremony held last week at the Oakton campus in Des Plaines.

“It’s all about better serving students by determining their needs and figuring out how we, as administrators and faculty, can work together to provide opportunities for them to reach their full potential,” Elmhurst College President Troy D. VanAken said.

The dual enrollment program is open to students who have graduated from high school or have a high school equivalency. Students are required to participate in the program from their first year at Oakton and must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA. They can take at least one four-semester-hour class at Elmhurst per year, and a maximum of two classes per academic year, while attending Oakton and paying Oakton tuition rates for the Elmhurst course. Dual-enrolled students get access to the more than 50 undergraduate degree programs available at Elmhurst, including nursing, education and communication sciences and disorder programs.

Oakton students not in the dual enrollment program can still benefit from the guaranteed admission agreement. If they complete an associate degree with 64 transferable credits, they can enter Elmhurst as a junior.

“It’s nice to have agreements like these so we know that that the classes from Oakton will transfer for sure,” said Adrianna Bialic, a second-year Oakton student transferring to Elmhurst this fall to study nursing.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.