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The More Classes Successfully Completed, The More Money Saved

Dual credit programs offer savings for parents and time for high school students

It’s not a new concept, but now it’s free and mutally beneficial for everyone!

High school students can take college classes from Okefenokee Technical College (OTC) free of charge. Many students in the area have discovered this golden opportunity and are taking full advantage of it.

More than likely, you will run into one of them in a professional setting very soon, whether as a nurse at a local hospital or as a small business owner. These students want to take the shortest, least expensive route to their destination, and they know that smart choices, determination, and hard work are the driving forces that will get them there.  

In addition to getting a glimpse of college life, Dual Credit students like Alexis, Jordan, and Mary, save time - hours and hours of class time, study time, research time, and exam time – as a result of their decision to participate in a Dual Enrollment or ACCEL program. Their parents know that Dual Credit programs save the family lots and lots of money. The more Dual Credit courses passed, the more money saved.

During her senior year at Pierce County High School, Alexis Cowan decided to begin working on her college core requirements. She enrolled in four classes at OTC during her last semester in high school. While other graduating seniors were enjoying a carefree last semester of high school, Alexis was taking a full college courseload. Was it easy? Definitely not, but each of the classes she enrolled in and completed transferred to her high school as part of the ACCEL program, so Alexis was able to satisfy both college and high school requirements with each course. After graduating high school in May 2013, Alexis enrolled at College of Coastal Georgia (CCGA), transferred the OTC courses she completed, began CCGA with four courses under her belt, and is in full pursuit of an Associate of Science degree in Nursing (RN).

“If I get accepted into a BSN (nursing) program for fall,” stated Alexis, “I should graduate in 2016, a year ealier than most of my classmates. Right now I am finishing up my sophomore year and will complete it by the end of this semester, while I am technically a freshman. I plan to continue my education and eventually become a nurse practitioner.”

“Being in the ACCEL program during my spring semester of high school was the best thing I ever did,” continued Cowan. “I wish I had started my jnior year of high school! I strongly recommend high school students to do this.”
Books? Oh yeah, those are provided to high school Dual Credit students free of charge as part of OTC’s high school initiative program.
Jordan Cason grew up working along side his father in their family-owned business, and he knew from a young age that he wanted to be a business owner himself. During his senior year at Ware County High School, Jordan enrolled at OTC in the air conditioning technology program. The decision enabled him to advance his expected college graduation date from December 2014 to August 2014. By completing the air conditioning technology program early, Jordan has more time to earn money and focus on his professional goals. His future plans are to obtain his Georgia Conditioned Air Contractor license and open his own business.

“I highly recommend the dual enrollment program at OTC,” said Jordan. “I tell my high school age friends about this opportunity all the time.” While the average dual credit student begins his/her college career as a junior or senior, Mary Baxter of Folkston is the exception. She, along with her parents, recognized early on the benefits of the ACCEL program. She began taking degree level, transferrable courses as a 10th grader at Charlton Couty High School.
“The ACCEL program has opened up many opportunities by allowing me to complete all my core classes before graduating high school,” said Mary when asked about her experience as a dual credit high school student.

Mary plans to take as many college core classes as she can throughout her high school career, enroll at Georgia Southern University as an accounting major, and eventually become a licensed certified public accountant (CPA). And the best news yet, she will have taken all of her core classes for college and still be eligible for a full HOPE grant or scholarship after high school because ACCEL courses do not count against a high school student’s lifetime HOPE allowance.

And why have these (and many, many other high school students) been so successful in their college classes? It’s all about baby steps. These students were able to experience the rigors of college life on a small scale while living at home, giving mom and dad the opportunity to facilitate a smooth transition to college.

Dual Credit students are offered the same opportunities as any other high school students, including eligibility for academic honors and participation in sports, school functions, and student activities. They have the additional opportunity of building a successful post-secondary academic track record while in high school, provided they are willing to work hard.

And what does Dual Credit mean? It’s a two-for-one deal. One course is taken, but the course counts for both high school and college credit. High school students get a jump start on fulfilling college course requirements while earning high school credit for the same course. One course, whether taken at a high school, an OTC campus, or online, counts toward both high school and college credit.

Because Dual Credit students receive college credit for the classes they complete,  course duplication is eliminated and high school students jump start their college career. Talk about a great deal! And it’s a great deal for all students, regardless of whether they are planning to attend a Georgia Board of Regents college or university, technical college, or private insititution.

In every case, transfer course agreements are in place to assure students they will not be required to repeat specific courses, provided the courses are successfully completed at an accredited institution. As a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and as a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) -accredited institution, Okefenokee Technical College is able to offer a considerable number of general education courses that will transfer.

Requirements to enter a Dual Credit program include specific scores on the COMPASS exam, SAT or ACT. In addition, ACCEL students, those students interested in completing an AAS degree program at Okefenokee Technical College or continuing on to another college or university after graduating from high school, must have a 3.0 GPA. Students are typically required to be 16 years old in order to participate, but exeptions can be referred to the college president, Dr. Glenn Deibert, for approval.

For additonal information about Dual Credit programs, contact Rana Zauner at (912) 287-6569 or rzauner@okefenokeetech.edu or Kate Bussey at (912) 632-2355 or kbussey@okefenokeetech.edu. 

Alexis Cowan

Photo1:
Because Alexis Cowan (Pierce) enrolled at OTC while in high school and participated in the ACCEL program, she was able to begin College of Coastal Georgia with a full semester of college  courses already completed. Since the ACCEL courses taken through OTC were free as part of the HOPE Scholarship program and the OTC High School Initiative program, Cowan is ahead of the game in more ways than one. And Alexis was still eligible for a full HOPE Scholarship after high school because ACCEL courses do not count against a high school student’s lifetime HOPE allowance.

Jordan Cason

Photo2:
During his senior year at Ware County High School, Jordan Cason enrolled at OTC in the air conditioning technology program as part of the Dual Enrollment program. The decision enabled him to advance his expected college graduation date, saving him time and money.  And his decision to participate in a Dual Credit program will mean his HOPE grant will stretch farther since dual enrollment courses do not count against a high school student’s lifetime HOPE allowance.

Mary Baxter

Photo3:
Mary Baxter (Folkston) plans to take as many college core classes as she can throughout her high school years, enroll at Georgia Southern University as an accounting major, and eventually become a licensed certified public accountant (CPA). She began taking degree level, transferrable courses through OTC as soon as she was permitted.  When she graduates from Charlton County High School, she will have taken all of her college core classes and still be eligible for a full HOPE grant or scholarship after high school.

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