NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

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Getting a Jump Start on College

Feature Story
Posted on Mar, 01 2013

Photo of Martin McNichols

While some high school students spend their summers working a part-time job, going on vacation, or hanging out with friends, Martin McNichols decided to use his summer break to start working towards a college degree. While McNichols still is managing to find time to work thirty hours a week, hang out with friends, go on vacation, and become an Eagle Scout, he decided beginning college coursework would be a good way to spend his “free time”.  

While McNichols has been taking dual credits through his Minnesota high school for a few years, this summer 2012 was the first class he has taken through NDSU Distance and Continuing Education (DCE). When asked why not just wait to start taking classes until he is a college freshman, McNichols replied, “Well, it saves you a lot of money to do it online, which is great. But also it’s helping me prepare for the more rigorous classes I will take once I’m a full-time college student.”

McNichols might be on to something. According to US News and World Report (2009), 30% of students end up leaving their undergraduate program after only the first year. Many freshmen enter college straight from high school unprepared for the differences in course load and expectations between college-level and high school classes. The challenging courses coupled with the new found sense of independence that college places on students often leaves them struggling to keep up. To assure success during his freshman year, McNichols decided taking a summer class would help ease the difficult transition from high school to college.

“It’s helping me prepare for the more rigorous classes I will take once I’m a full-time college student.”
-Martin McNichols

Although McNichols still has a year before heading off to college, he already has his sights on NDSU and the pharmacy program. “I really enjoy science and technology and with my part-time job working at a pharmacy, I realized I could see myself doing it as a career,” he states.

When asked how he finds time to take a college course while managing all his other responsibilities, McNichols says, “It helps that with online classes I can work at my own pace, which I love! I also like getting instant feedback from instructors so I know exactly where I stand.”

McNichols is currently taking ECON 201, which is one class that can be used towards general education requirements. However, DCE offers a wide array of other online classes that he considered taking this summer. “I thought about taking the public speaking course (COMM 110), but I think I will leave that one for when I get to NDSU next year,” he says.

For more information about online classes offered through NDSU Distance and Continuing Education, including courses that fulfill college general education requirements, please visit the DCE website at www.ndsu.edu/dce/.