Students entering the ninth grade at Catholic Central High School for the 2016-17 academic year will have the opportunity to not just earn their high school diploma in four years, but also an associate degree from Clark State Community College; all while never leaving the comfort of their high school.
“It is a total transfer module,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “Catholic Central students enrolled at Clark State through the College Credit Plus Program will graduate from high school with their diploma and an associate degree. It is a structured pathway from the beginning.”
Catholic Central currently has 23 students earning college credits from Clark State through the College Credit Plus Program. “We want to formalize what is already taking place so it can be a degree bearing curriculum when they graduate,” said Dr. Karen Juliano, high school principal and CEO of Catholic Central. “Upperclassmen are now attending classes on Clark State’s campus and on Central’s campus.”
With the implementation of the two-year degree program, qualified students will be able to take college-level courses all at Catholic Central. Students in eighth grade will take a placement test to determine their eligibility for the program. Those qualified will begin with English I, a prerequisite course, in the fall.
Dr. Juliano said Catholic Central is aiming to integrate the high school and college experience both academically and collectively. She has received positive feedback from parents, students, the board and alumni. “It’s not something we are forcing people to do, but it is giving our students an opportunity to get a two-year degree to help their college situation financially and in every other way,” she said. “If they are capable of taking these courses, we want to capitalize on that and give them everything we can.”
Instructors at Catholic Central are being certified to teach additional college-level courses and preparing for the fall schedule; they will use the course syllabi provided by Clark State. “Each year we will be adding whatever the next course is and at the same time, our other students can possibly get additional credits than what were already offered,” said Juliano.
Dr. Juliano said since a Catholic Central graduate can enter a four-year college as a junior, theoretically, they could have their master’s degree within three years of graduating high school. “If they maximize every single thing along the way,” she said, “That’s the kind of door that could be opened to them. We will be engaging students on college-level curriculum with the schools focus on academic rigor and high expectations.”
Dr. Amit Singh, provost and vice president of Clark State, said Clark State is committed to making the two-year degree program a success with Catholic Central. “We appreciate that they are willing to offer this opportunity to their students,” said Singh. “A significant college course offering and an early start on college will give their students a leg-up in terms of their future and careers.”