College of Southern Maryland students Tierra Harris of Hollywood, Taylor Mutchler of Huntingtown and Hassan Yousaf of Hughesville began their collegiate studies while in high school through the dual enrollment program between CSM and their county boards of education, and spoke about their experiences as part of a roundtable with U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr. and Under Secretary Ted Mitchell May 16 at the La Plata Campus.

Following the roundtable, King announced that the Department of Education was inviting 44 postsecondary institutions across 23 states to participate in an experiment that would allow students taking college-credit courses access to Federal Pell Grants as early as high school. An estimated 10,000 high school students would have the opportunity to access approximately $20 million in Pell Grants to take dual enrollment courses, according to a fact sheet from the Department of Education. CSM is one of the institutions named in the experiment.

“The research evidence is clear. We know that students who have those early college experiences while in high school are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college, persist in college and graduate from college. This experimental cycle will allow us to bring that effort to greater scale around the country and more importantly to engage in more low income students in those experiences,” said King.

“Tuition is just a part of what it costs to enroll in college—there are fees, textbooks and transportation. Sometimes those elements get in the way of broad participation in programs. So through this experiment, we hope to make Pell Grants available to students and families to defray those costs as well. We see this as a partnership between the federal government, community colleges like CSM and progressive school districts like those represented here today,” said Mitchell to those who participated in the roundtable.

“These types of robust dual enrollment programs require extensive collaboration between colleges and school districts,” said CSM President Brad Gottfried. “The College of Southern Maryland has a long history of effective interactions with our educational partners in the Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s public school districts. We are all focused on ensuring that our youngsters are fully prepared for a successful transition.”

In addition to CSM students, the roundtable included Molly Gearhart, supervisor of student services for Calvert County Public Schools, Alicia Jones, supervising school counselor for Charles County Public Schools, Jeffrey A. Maher, chief academic officer for St. Mary’s Public Schools, CSM Professor and Chair of Languages and Literature Division David Robinson and CSM Admissions Director Brian Hammond.

Gottfried facilitated the informal discussion which touched on the benefits of dual enrollment, particularly through the unique perspective of the students, and gaining understanding in what is successful about the program, what is challenging and what could make the program even better.

CSM has offered early admissions enrollment for high school juniors and seniors since 1980 and the program has evolved over the years. In fall 2007, the college began waiving 50 percent of its tuition and fees for dual enrolled students, and today, CSM’s dually enrolled students are able to take their courses on campus, online, at their high school or virtually using video teleconferencing technology.

Mutchler, 17, who will graduate from Huntingtown High School this May, said that she was looking at classes for her senior year and was reluctant to sign up for more Advanced Placement (AP) courses because there was no guarantee that her efforts would result in college credit. Through the dual enrollment program and one AP course that transferred, Mutchler has earned 30 college credits which will essentially give her sophomore status when she begins full time at CSM this fall. Her goal is to take advantage of CSM’s transfer articulation agreement with University of Maryland College Park (UMD) to study pharmacy and then apply to the UMD School of Pharmacy.

Yousaf, 19, was a dual enrolled student taking math courses while a senior at Thomas Stone High School through ACCESS CSM. Through ACCESS Yousaf took part in college courses that used video teleconferencing technology so that he could remain at Thomas Stone while participating in a classroom of CSM students taught by a CSM professor at the La Plata Campus. After high school, Yousaf continued at CSM and is pursuing an associate degree in general studies. He plans to transfer to UMD to study computer science and pre-med.

Harris, 21, was a dual enrolled student while at Leonardtown High School and will graduate from CSM May 19. At CSM she participated in athletics and on the CSM collegiate robotics team which earned three consecutive invitations to the VEX-U World Championships. She is transferring to University of North Carolina Chapel Hill this fall to study computer science.

In the 2010-11 school year, more than 1.4 million high school students took courses offered by a college or university for credit through dual enrollment.

For information on CSM dual enrollment program, visit

To view photos from the roundtable and press availability, visit