MCCC Dual Enrollment program helped student prepare for life

By Eric Devlin
Trevor Hallman, an MCCC alumnus, found success as a Dual Enrollment student. Photo by Eric Devlin.

Trevor Hallman, an MCCC alumnus, found success as a Dual Enrollment student. Photo by Eric Devlin.

Trevor Hallman was a gifted student growing up, but never felt challenged by the work he was doing in the classroom. That is until he enrolled as a  High School Dual Enrollment student at Montgomery County Community College. Today he’s working in information technology at The Hill School and credits his time as a Dual Enrollment student for helping him get there.

The 29-year-old from Pottsgrove graduated from Pottsgrove High School in 2012. Before he reached his senior year, he said he never felt intellectually stimulated by his schoolwork.

“I stopped liking school by fourth grade,” he said. “School was too easy. With my classwork, I’d half pay attention and not do my homework. So, I’d ace the test but get a C for a grade.”

Through the gifted program at school, he learned about the High School Dual Enrollment program at MCCC. Students ages 15 and older enrolled in the program can take college level courses on campus, online or through their high school. It allows students to get a head start on their college career and can lead to an associate’s degree and transferable credits to a four-year institution. Hallman decided to enroll for two classes at Pottstown Campus and appreciated the atmosphere of respect.

“They treated you like an adult,” he said. “Here is the assignment, go do it. The professors expected you to be there because you wanted to learn. It was a different atmosphere. People want to be in that room.”

Hallman’s experience is similar to many Dual Enrollment students looking for a challenge from school.

“So many students aren’t feeling challenged or maybe they’re over high school life,” said Christine Morris, Program Manager of Educational Partnerships. “Some students are ready for that environment. Dual enrollment exposes students to a new environment and prepares them for what comes next in their educational career.”

“One of the great things about dual enrollment is students are treated by the College as college students,” said Shannon Harley, Coordinator, High School Programs and Educational Partnerships. “Students still have their high school support, as well as support from professors, the College and the dual enrollment team guidance. We’re also a resource for them to navigate the college setting. The benefit of students coming to campus and taking classes is they’re getting experience.”

Harley explained students may not necessarily be sitting next to a traditional college freshman when they come to class. Sometimes they’re next to an adult learner, for example.

“What’s cool about Montco is you don’t really know,” she said. “You’re getting multiple perspectives, no matter the course. It provides a lot of value. Their professor doesn’t know they’re a dual enrollment student. They receive the same treatment. It helps adjust students to college life, while still having comforts of high school and their guidance counselor.”

The experience in the Dual Enrollment program certainly inspired Hallman to continue his time at MCCC during his senior year of high school. He worked his schedule so he could attend the College in the morning and go back to high school for his lunch period to stay in touch with his friends. He took one class at Pottsgrove to stay connected as well. This allowed him to enjoy his senior year, not miss the fun of it with color day and other activities they have for the senior class. Yet – he was learning at his level through the College.

He enrolled to pursue an associate’s degree in Electrical Engineering Science but quickly decided to change majors.

“I’m slightly color vision deficient. I needed to see different colors on a small transistor, so I knew I would not do well in the electrical engineering field,” he said. “So, I thought let’s consider something else.”

He took a couple Computer Science courses and discovered a passion for computer programming, which led him to change his major and he ultimately completed the program in 2015 2015 with an associate’s degree in Computer Science. Afterward, he temporarily worked in the electronics department at a local Staples, he also did some freelance computer work for a local business, before landing a job in 2021 as the Supervisor of Technology Services in the Pottsgrove School District.

“I knew about the position because a friend of mine worked there. He said, ‘You should apply; you would do well,” he said. He also shared that he was ready to make a career move. “It was closer to where I live, a shorter time driving, and I wanted to switch things up.”

Going back to his alma mater as an adult was a good experience overall.

“The school is very nice; the people are very nice. The staff and faculty were welcoming,” he said. “Especially in the buildings I was in.”

Balancing his time between Ringing Rocks and West Pottsgrove elementary schools, he was responsible for making sure the technology in the buildings worked properly. From classroom projectors, to iPads, to wiping technology in the building and setting up new devices in the summer, there was always plenty to do.

He started his current position at The Hill School earlier this year. The responsibilities are very similar to Pottsgrove but with a few new challenges.

“It’s a bit more technical because it’s every device, as opposed to an assigned device. Students bring their own device. A high percentage of students are from out of the country. For example, while he definitely knows where all the buttons are on a Windows computer, the words might entirely be in Mandarin Chinese, he said.

Hallman looks back fondly on his time as a student at MCCC. In addition to what he learned in the computer science program, he grew as a student and a man.

Montco prepared him for adulthood based on the environment and attitude of college life, he said.

“With my classes, I took responsibility and contributed,” he said. “I’m really glad Montco provides the Dual Enrollment program. I definitely enjoyed my time there.”