The real deal is to attend college while in high school

Some programs help students take courses in high school or even junior high school. What are the pros and cons?

OHIO, USA — Earning college credit while still in high school can be a great way to get started quickly in higher education.

Many students do it, but how easy or difficult is the process? To start with, taking college courses as a high school student not only gets some college classes out early, but can also save you a ton of money.

“They don’t have to pay for these courses. The state will cover the costs,” said Amanda Zacur, Assistant Director of Recruitment at Cleveland State University.

Zacur is referring to Ohio’s College Credit Plus, or CCP, program – one of the most popular ways for middle and high school students to get college credit for free from any public college in the state.

“This allows anyone in grades 7 through 12 to take college-level courses,” says Zacur. But you do have to meet certain acceptance criteria.”

Take GPA, for example; Each school has different criteria. Many schools require a 3.0, but some make exceptions.

“At Cleveland State, if you don’t have a 3.0, we’ll be looking for a 2.3 and 16 GPA on the ACT and an 880 on the SAT,” says Zacur.

Warrensville High School senior Allen Barkley joined the CCP’s Rising Star program.

“This has students starting in grade 9 taking college-level courses and then progressing slowly over the years,” says Heidi Nicholas, Executive Director of Enrollment Management & Operations at Cuyahoga Community College.

Early college courses helped Barkley graduate from college before becoming a high school graduate. He admitted he wasn’t an excellent student academically, but he was driven.

“I graduated last Thursday with my Associate’s of Arts before I got my high school degree,” says Barkley. “I’m not going to sit here and say I got all the A’s and B’s. I got a few C’s. It wasn’t easy. I’d definitely quit halfway. That’s a lot of work. You just have to stay focused,” said Barkley. “If the professor says it should be 11:59 on Sunday, it should be 11:59 on Sunday. As for high school, you can maneuver a little.”

Also, if you fail an initial college course, it remains your permanent lecture record.

“This is a conversation that, I think, parents and school administrators should have with students to make sure they are socially and academically ready to be in a college environment,” said Nicholas.

Overall, educators and students agree that the advantages of early college outweigh the disadvantages. And with programs like College Credit Plus and Ohio College Tech Prep – and Early College High Schools, which integrate your first year of college into the curriculum – it’s now easier than ever for kids to start their future early.

“I’m graduating in May from Warrensville and I’m taking my Associate of Arts and high school degree and going to Kent State,” Barkley said.

Students should meet with their school counselor to choose the right starting college path for them. Some early college programs require it. For more information about Early College programs and schools in Ohio, visit the Ohio Department of Education website.