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McNeese Spring Graduate Will Also Receive High School Diploma

McNeese Spring Graduate Will Also Receive High School Diploma

McNeese State University’s spring commencement is this Saturday, May 13, and one student, Joseph McKinney, 17, will graduate with an associate degree in general studies with a 4.0. Incredibly, 11 days later (May 24), he’ll receive his diploma as an honor graduate from Westlake High School. Joseph McKinney

“Joseph is the first ever early admission and dual enrollment student who will complete an associate degree from McNeese at the same time that he is graduating from high school,” says Betty Anderson, director of community services, outreach and the dual enrollment program coordinator at McNeese. “McNeese started its early admission program in the fall of 1999 and this is a great achievement for our program.”

One year ago, McKinney hadn’t attended a single college class. Now, with a combination of credit from McNeese dual enrollment coursework, AP and ACT scores and CLEP testing, he has two years of higher education under his belt.

“Joseph purchased the Western Civilization II textbook, read it in two days and passed the CLEP test,” says Anderson. “Anyone who can read and master a college textbook in two days has great potential. Joseph is a great example of the cooperative efforts of McNeese’s early admission program and Calcasieu Parish School System’s advanced placement program to maximize student academic achievement.”

Anderson explains that McNeese’s dual enrollment program offers many students the opportunity to reduce their time to complete a college degree and offset some college expenses – dual enrollment classes are only $100 per credit hour or $120 for online classes.

This cost-to-result ratio is especially important, Anderson says, as TOPS funding has recently been reduced and students are responsible for paying a significant share of their tuition. “Dual enrollment will cut the costs on their degree substantially and help their TOPS dollars go further,” Anderson explains.

McKinney, the youngest of six siblings, says cost and also location were “big factors in my decision to attend McNeese.” 

The McNeese dual enrollment program currently offers courses at 32 high schools in seven parishes, including courses in language arts, science, math, history, psychology, statistics, human anatomy and physiology, as well as introductory classes in nursing, education, engineering and exercise science.

“The dual enrollment program gives students the chance to experience potential majors by taking 100 to 200 level courses like Intro to Nursing or Intro to Education for example,” she says. “Students can figure out relatively inexpensively if the idea they have of a major lines up with the actual experience. It’s really giving them a jump start.”

Now, thanks to dual enrollment, McKinney is that much closer to achieving a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering -- his ultimate goal. “I’ve always been pretty good in science and math, so chemical engineering seemed like a perfect fit. Plus, engineers make pretty good money, too,” he says.  

According to the 2017 College ROI Report by PayScale, Inc., McNeese’s College of Engineering and Computer Science ranks third among all public and private institutions in the nation in providing one of the best 20-year net returns on investment for its engineering majors via high earning potential and affordability.

The early admission program also helps transition prospective students into college life. McKinney said his dual enrollment classes offered a peek into college expectations and helped him transition into the heavier workload. “I have taken hard classes before in high school. But college classes are at a different level. On my first quizzes in calculus and physics I didn’t do very well. I had to start studying!” he says.

Dual enrollment also helped him improve his scores on college entrance exams. After his science courses, McKinney reports that his ACT science score went up “six points.” This, plus the boost in his math scores from taking McNeese’s calculus course, helped him to qualify for a McNeese Presidential Scholarship.

“Dual enrollment was a good program for me,” he says. “I encourage other high school students to look into it.”

For students who are interested in the dual enrollment program, registration for McNeese’s fall 2017 semester is currently underway. Students or parents can call Anderson’s office at 337-475-5615 or email her at to receive additional information, request a dual enrollment course packet and get instructions on how to apply online for high school dual enrollment.