Cue the “Pomp and Circumstance.” This week, 26 seniors from the Rockwood and Meramec Valley school districts will be among the first to walk across the commencement stage having simultaneously earned both a high school diploma and an associate degree.
The students are part of St. Louis Community College-Wildwood’s Early College Partnership, a two-year, full immersion, dual enrollment program. The program began in fall 2017. Since then, each student has earned 60 or more hours of college credit from STLCC while also completing the requirements for a high school diploma.
“Our Early College graduates have achieved a significant milestone in their academic careers,” said Steven G. Collins, Ph.D., interim president at Wildwood. “Not only have these students demonstrated their ability to succeed at the college level, but they also have done so while earning credits that will transfer to their four-year schools.”
Eureka High School student Maddy Clark said the Early College program has been instrumental to her college career. At 18, she’s on the fast-track to graduate debt-free with a bachelor’s degree in political science and minors in business law and marketing management. Her ultimate goal is to work in international relations at an embassy.
“It’s such a relief knowing that my general education coursework is complete,” Clark said. “I had a great experience in the Early College program – the classes were challenging, the professors were exceptional, and I met incredible people who opened my eyes to new opportunities. Best of all, the credits I earned have put me in a position to compete my bachelor’s degree in one year when I transfer to Southeast Missouri State (University). This means that come next spring, I’ll be able to start graduate school or begin my career.”
Like Clark, Pacific High School student Morgan Mulford is in a similar position. In the fall, she will transfer to the University of Missouri to pursue a degree in health sciences.
“I want to be a pediatrician, so I know I have a lot of years of school ahead of me,” Mulford said. “I’m so glad I spent the last two years of high school taking classes at the community college. The experience has given me a head-start on my degree, and I’ve saved a considerable amount of money along the way.”
After graduation, the vast majority of Early College students plan to continue their education at four-year schools. Along with having already earned an associate degree, several of the students have also received scholarships because of their grades or their status as transfer students.
“As a parent of two high school students myself, I’m a strong believer in Early College education,” Collins said. “Along with receiving a high-quality education, one of the biggest benefits of STLCC’s Early College program is the value it offers students and families.”
Each school district establishes its own partnership agreement with STLCC for the Early College program. STLCC also offers high school students the opportunity to earn college credit by taking dual enrollment and dual credit courses.
Follow this link to learn how to take college courses while still in high school.