MARIETTA, OHIO (May 16, 2019)– Washington State Community College (WSCC) will recognize 322 students during its commencement ceremony on Saturday. Included among the degree candidates are 44 high school seniors who capitalized on the opportunity to get a jumpstart on college through the College Credit Plus (CCP) program.
CCP is a state initiative designed to provide 7th through 12th-grade students the opportunity to earn college credits at no cost to them. Each year, prior to receiving a high school diploma, WSCC grants approximately 30 degrees to CCP high school seniors. This year, however, that number has increased by an estimated 40%.
WSCC’s CCP Coordinator Debbie Gurtis attributes the rise in degrees and certificates granted to CCP students to several factors, including earlier enrollment, increased interest, and expanded opportunities. “There’s more interest by students who want to get an early start on earning a degree,” said Gurtis. “And we are seeing students enroll in CCP earlier. Previously our students were juniors and seniors, but we are now seeing an increase in sophomores coming to us.” She went on to explain that the college has also added several new partners for dual enrollment. These partnerships allow students to earn college credits at their high school, which eases the access to college.
According to the most recent figures provided by the state, during the 2017-2018 academic year across Ohio 1,181 degrees plus an additional 535 certificates were earned by CCP students prior to graduating from high school. This constitutes a 72% increase from the programs initial launch in 2015.
The degrees and college credits these students are earning translate into massive savings in tuition. In fact, last year, over 70,000 Ohio students earned in excess of half a million college credits. That translates into more than $148 million in savings based on full standard tuition rates at public colleges.
“CCP has been so valuable to me. In addition to having the majority of my pre-requisites finished, I have now taken enough college courses to know which ones I enjoy the most,” said Caldwell High School senior Caileigh Moore. On Saturday, Moore will receive two associate degrees, liberal arts transfer and general science transfer. In the fall she plans to attend The Ohio State University and pursue a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience with a minor in psychology. Her long-term goal is to go to medical school and become a psychiatrist.
While CCP is a great means of reducing over-all college debt, many students discover it helps them cultivate studious routines that help make them successful from the start at a four-year institution.
Marietta High School senior Natalie Brooks estimates CCP saved her $25,000 and a year-and-a-half of classes, however, the savings were only part of the value. “CCP was a window to higher education for me,” said Brooks. “It was a way for me to find my passion and see if college was the right option for me. I feel ready to go to a university.” Brooks, who will receive her general science transfer degree, plans to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Akron.
Saturday’s ceremony will be held at Dyson Baudo Recreation Center on the Marietta College campus. The student commencement address will be given by CCP graduate and Marietta High School Senior Ella Rockhold. Rockhold credits CCP with helping her find her love for chemistry and math as well as develop her skills as a writer. After she is granted her general science transfer degree, she plans to attend Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown, Wisconsin as a cello performance major.
College Credit Plus is open to all Ohio college-ready students in grades 7-12. Students can earn up to 30 college credit hours per academic year, which includes the summer session, with a maximum of 120 college credit hours while enrolled in the program. It’s important to note, that while public colleges are free, courses taken at a private college may require a nominal financial investment. For additional information about the CCP program at WSCC, contact Debbie Gurtis at 740.568.1930.