MARIETTA, OHIO (DECEMBER 16, 2015) —Kaitlyn Seevers is the new face of college freshmen. She is a high school senior who will graduate in the spring with not just her high school diploma, but FOUR associate degrees from Washington State Community College.
Seevers is part of a growing trend of high school students who are getting a jumpstart on their college career by enrolling in a state established program called College Credit Plus (CCP). Through CCP, students as young as 7th grade can begin exploring and earning free college credits, up to 30 per year. The program is offered at no cost to participating students and replaces the programs formerly known as Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) and Dual Enrollment. Following some program modifications by the State, the programs were rebranded College Credit Plus.
The state of Ohio developed CCP to allow college-bound students the opportunity to explore their options and help shape their educational goals. Acceptance into the program is contingent on a student placing college-ready. Once they’ve established their aptitude, they are eligible to take a variety of courses, offered both at their high school and on a college campus.
Heather Saling, Assistant Director of Advising who works with the CCP program at Washington State Community College explained that high school students will typically enroll in general education courses through CCP. These courses fulfill high school graduation requirements as well as core requirements towards a two-year or four-year degree. “Students can potentially begin their college career as a true freshman but with the academic standing of a junior,” Saling explained.
A recent report by The Institute for College Access and Success said nearly 70% of college seniors who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2014 had an average of nearly $29,000 in loan debt. Programs like Ohio’s CCP ultimately can keep students from drowning in debt by eliminating the expense of the first two years, thereby potentially cutting tuition costs in half.
WSCC just concluded its first semester of the new CCP program. In its inaugural term, nearly 200 area high school students were enrolled on the WSCC campus and more than 250 students participated in CCP by taking a college course at their high school. WSCC has branded the on-campus CCP as its Early College Academy where students receive guidance from CCP-dedicated advisors.
“We work hard to help these students establish a record of success from the beginning. This experience can help shape the students’ educational goals and the path they are going to take to get there,” Saling said.
Besides reduced college expense, another important benefit of CCP is the value schools place on it. “Colleges are quick to accept CCP students because they’ve already established a foundation of academic success,” said Saling. Students just like Seevers are holding college acceptance at the beginning of their senior year unlike other students who may not get a response until spring.
“Kaitlyn is one of our superstars, but she’s definitely not alone,” Saling boasted. Last year WSCC had nearly 40 high school students who graduated with an associate degree within weeks of graduating from their respective high schools.
Seevers began taking classes at WSCC when she was a 14 year-old freshman at Warren High School. “My first year here I struggled a little bit because I was always the youngest person in the class,” she acknowledged. She describes herself as extremely organized, self-motivated and a planner, and said “I’ve been this way since I was really little girl.” Her inner drive led her down a path that none of her fellow high school freshman followed. “I remember being in a class where I was the youngest at 14 and the oldest person was 47.” She freely admitted she felt some intimidation at first, but knew she didn’t want to let fear force her to quit. “My first semester I took 7 hours; I was testing the waters to see if I could really do this,” she confessed.
Her initial success led to greater course loads and this spring, she will graduate with associate degrees in Biological Science, General Science, Physical Science and Liberal Arts.
Seevers attributes her success to two life lessons taught to her by her parents: 1. Your happiness should be your main priority. 2. You can do anything you put your mind to.
She has successfully applied those lessons to her academic career. Next fall she plans to begin her journey to medical school. Currently, she has received two college acceptance letters and is awaiting one more before she makes a definite decision about her future.
Seevers says she has nothing but high praise for the College Credit Plus program and WSCC’s Early College Academy. “This is a great place to get your feet wet and see if this is what you want to do for the rest of your life.”
More information about CCP is available at www.ohiohighered.org/ccp.
For 44 years, Washington State Community College has provided residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley the opportunity to realize dreams, to enhance skills, and to broaden understanding. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult student looking to move your life in a new direction, Washington State has the classes to suit your needs. For more information about Washington State Community College, visit www.wscc.edu or call 740.374.8716.