Achieving Early Success with College Credit Plus
High school students earn college credits at Tri-C through Ohio’s College Credit Plus program
Every year, thousands of local high school students begin their higher education journey at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) through Ohio’s College Credit Plus program. Tri-C’s newsroom will share success stories from the program throughout the week of March 12-16.
Ninety-one colleges and universities joined Cuyahoga Community College in opening their lecture halls and campuses to high school students enrolled through Ohio’s College Credit Plus program.
None matched the academic achievement seen at Tri-C.
College Credit Plus students at Tri-C studied their way to nearly 36,000 college credits during the 2016-2017 academic year. Only three colleges in the state came within 80 percent of that total.
The credits earned at Tri-C that year carried a tuition value of more than $3.7 million — money that families won’t have to spend as the next generation pursues college degrees critical for landing the jobs of tomorrow.
“The goal of College Credit Plus is to reduce the time and expense of earning a degree or certificate,” said Tim Dorsey, dean of access and completion at Tri-C. “It gives high school students a head start on building a better life, and that’s good for them and our community.”
Ohio debuted College Credit Plus in the fall of 2015 to improve educational attainment and career readiness for young citizens while strengthening the bridge between high school and higher education.
The innovative program serves as a dual enrollment system, with students earning college credits while meeting high school graduation requirements. College Credit Plus is open to teens in grades seven through 12 who are academically ready for more rigorous coursework.
State education dollars pay for the program, meaning there is little or no cost for participating students and their families.
College Credit Plus expanded and improved upon a previous state program called Post Secondary Enrollment Options, or PSEO. State officials viewed PSEO as underutilized given inefficiencies and confusion with the system.
The revamp brought immediate results. Early enrollment by high school students in state colleges and universities swelled from 13,813 in the last year of PSEO to more than 54,000 in the first year of College Credit Plus.
Growth continued in the second full year of College Credit Plus in 2016-2017, when more than 68,000 high school students took advantage of the program. Another increase is expected in the current year.
Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey said the state is dedicated to providing students with a low-cost opportunity to further their academic and career goals.
“I’m pleased to see more college-ready students taking advantage of the opportunity offered by College Credit Plus,” Carey said. “This gives students across Ohio a jump-start on their future while saving their families thousands of dollars in college tuition costs.”
The financial lift to families cannot be understated. Just ask Laurie Septaric.
Both of her daughters, Nicole and Kristen, invested some of their high school years at Western Campus. The credits they earned transferred to Kent State University. Nicole entered the four-year school as a sophomore; Kristen will arrive this fall as a junior.
Collectively, the Tri-C courses Nicole and Kristen took through College Credit Plus and PSEO equaled three years at Kent State. Tuition, room and board at KSU runs more than $20,000 per year.
“That’s $60,000 that we don’t have to spend,” said Septaric, of Seven Hills. “For a blue-collar family like ours, that’s huge.”
College Credit Plus also positions high school students for success as they advance on their academic journey. A state report shows that CCP students across the state outperformed their college-age classmates during the 2016-2017 year.
Those high grades added academic credentials to fledgling resumes, as more than 800 College Credit Plus students across Ohio earned an associate degree or certificate through the program. Students at Tri-C accounted for 33 of those completion stories.
Dorsey said that Tri-C works with incoming College Credit Plus students to create a culture of success. Each student is required to attend an orientation session to ease their transition and introduce them to campus resources.
“They’re connected right away to the support system that exists within the College,” Dorsey said. “We want them to know they are one of our students and that there are people here to help them.”
Jeremy Watley said interactions with professors, staff and classmates helped his daughter, Jennifer, thrive after enrolling at Tri-C’s Eastern Campus through College Credit Plus.
He described her success as “a relief” for a father worried about his baby girl moving across the state this fall to take classes at Bowling Green State University.
“I know Jennifer will be able to handle things given her experiences at Tri-C with College Credit Plus,” said Watley, of Bedford. “She’s ready and heading off with a lot of confidence. As a dad, that eases a lot of concerns.”
College Credit Plus brought more than 4,000 high school students to Tri-C in 2016-2017 — an increase of more than 25 percent from the prior year. The students represented every public high school in Cuyahoga County and many from adjoining communities.
They’ve become more active and involved with campus life, too, and movement is afoot to begin a College Credit Plus Club at Western Campus.
The increased numbers reflect the success of the program at Tri-C, Dorsey said. He expects enrollment to continue trending upward, particularly given the positive experiences of College Credit Plus students.
“To be honest,” Dorsey said, “word of mouth is our best reference.”
March 15, 2018
John Horton, 216-987-4281 firstname.lastname@example.org