Bearden students finding success in both virtual, in-person DE courses


Bradynn Belcher

Some Bearden students take their DE courses virtually, but others can be found walking on Pellissippi State’s campus.

Preparing for college can create uncertainty for high school students. Many high school upperclassmen feel anxiety around college applications, standardized tests, college requirements, and embarking on a completely new experience.

Dual enrollment programs ease some of this anxiety by offering an opportunity for students to take college courses and earn college credit while in high school.

Bearden offers dual-enrollment programs through Pellissippi State Community College, Lincoln Memorial University, and Tusculum University. Through these schools, students have the option to take a multitude of dual-enrollment classes either in-person, synchronously, and asynchronously. 

Students enrolled in dual enrollment must do some self-assessment to determine which forms of classes (in-person, synchronous, or asynchronous) they would be successful in since this is the start of their college grade point average. 

Senior Carmen Alcocer is taking Christian and Hebrew Traditions and Psychology asynchronously through Pellissippi. She believes that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of taking her class online rather than in-person. 

“I prefer asynchronous virtual classes because I don’t have to worry about gas money and commuting, and I can do the work on my own schedule,” Alcocer said.

Alcocer will use the skills that she achieved by learning virtually the entirety of her junior year.

“I also feel prepared for my classes this semester because attending virtual school during my junior year helped me develop techniques to succeed in asynchronous classes,” Alcocer said.

Alcocer will never have to step on campus as an asynchronous student; however, in-person students have to travel to their college of choice upwards of five times a week.

“I’m currently taking English 1010, and I prefer in-person because it will help me to keep track of things mostly since it’s a college class,” senior dual-enrollment student Gabo Geronimo said.

Geronimo also pointed out that Bearden uses Canvas for pushing out its online class content, whereas Pellissippi State uses Brightspace. Going in-person prevents him from having to figure out how to navigate a new learning management system.

Geronimo sees dual-enrollment as a potential step to decrease the drastic culture shock that the college culture has on incoming freshmen.

“[Dual-enrollment] has definitely prepared me for college by the way that a college class is set up,” Geronimo said. “It won’t be as big of an impact when I go to college.”

English professor Mr. Charles White has instructed both in-person and synchronous classes at PSCC. Through his experience, he has been able to see both the benefits and drawbacks of virtual and in-person learning, and now recommends students accordingly. 

“I believe in-person classes are definitely preferable,” Mr. White said. “Not only is the class dynamic richer and more nuanced, but the social interaction among peers and exposure to different ways of thinking are invaluable as you begin a collegiate career.”

The Dual Enrollment Grant program gives Tennessee high school students the opportunity to get four free college courses through eligible institutions for which they will receive college credit.

“I would recommend dual enrollment to future students as a great way to open yourself up to new experiences outside of school, and simply to kickstart your college GPA,” Alcocer said.