July 21, 2021

LHES Students Get a Jumpstart on College

Dual credit program provides graduates with educational, financial benefits

When Lanai High and Elementary School seniors Amaya Hoopii-Baptista, Ryllah Rodrigues and Tower Vergara graduated this past May, they walked away with more than just high school diplomas. Thanks to a dual credit program, these ambitious students also earned associate degrees in liberal arts through the University of Hawaii Maui College.

All three plan to continue their higher education studies with hopes of earning their bachelor’s degrees sooner. Because they earn college credits prior to graduating from high school, students in a dual credit program can potentially save on college tuition. Since 2011, student enrollment at colleges across the U.S. has declined by over 10%, with the cost of college increasing by more than 25% in the past 10 years.

“I am so grateful I got this opportunity to be a part of this program,” Rodrigues said. “Not only did I save time in getting my associate degree, but I also saved my parents thousands of dollars in tuition fees.”

Even if students plan to attend a non-UH system college, there’s a good chance that most of their credits will transfer. Natalie Ropa, Student Support Services, shared that in her experience, students have found that many colleges and universities are aware of early college programs and will accommodate them.

Hoopii-Baptista, Rodrigues and Vergara didn’t join the program only in the hopes of reducing their college costs, but they aimed to challenge themselves intellectually. Over the years, students have found the college-level curriculum to be challenging, requiring more effort and study time. And while it can be a strain at times, they’ve found it to be a rewarding experience, pushing them to grow.

“I had the opportunity to explore different interests, as well as discover new interests, weaknesses, and strengths,” said recent graduate Hoopii-Baptista. “The most challenging part of this program and experience would have to be time management and balancing other aspects of life, especially as a teenager.”

In addition, local and national research has found strong correlations between participation in dual credit programs and higher high school GPAs, increased college enrollment, increased chances of earning a degree and lower rates for remedial college English and math courses.

How to apply for a dual credit program

For the 2021-2022 school year, the University of Maui College Dual Credit Program is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Students and their parents can visit the Lanai Education Center by appointment if they need assistance with the application process.

Financial assistance from the Hookui Project, the Department of Education and Pulama Lanai is available to students who wish to participate. Students who are accepted will be required to participate every year in several community service projects.

Students have several options for enrollment. The two most common are the Early College and Running Start programs.

The Early College dual credit program allows LHES students to take college classes with their high school peers. Early College classes are taught by college professors and qualified high school teachers.

LHES students participating in the Running Start dual credit program take college courses at a University of Hawaii campus. However, because of the pandemic, students have been taught in classes at LHES, Skybridge at UHMC, Zoom and via online courses.

To enroll in a dual credit program, students should take the following steps:

STEP 1: Meet with your LHES counselor

  • Discuss which dual credit program is the best fit for you.
  • Determine which classes to take.
  • Ask your counselor about what deadlines you need to keep in mind.
  • There are no GPA requirements, but students are required to take an online placement test in writing and math. They can take the test multiple times either at home on their computer or at the Lanai Ed Center.

STEP 2: Work with your counselor on required forms

  • Complete the UH System Application form.
  • Complete the online Dual Credit Application form; specify selected classes and authorize UH to forward your grades to the high school registrar upon completion of the class.
  • Submit the signed Dual Credit Application form and any other documents required by the UH campus to your high school counselor.

STEP 3: Be on the lookout for your notification letter in the mail or via email.

  • Follow up with the Admissions Office at the UH campus you applied to if you do not receive a letter or email or if you have any questions about the letter/email.
  • Work with the Running Start or Early College contact/counselor at the relevant UH campus to complete any additional steps related to your enrollment at the UH campus and registration in your selected class(es).

For more information about the University of Maui College Dual Credit Program, contact Natalie Ropa at (808) 5657266 or

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