The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

May 9, 2014

Area students learning quickly

Earning college credits early a smart decision

JOHNSTOWN — We hear complaints all the time about today’s young people. They’re lazy. They aren’t doing anything to secure a good future for themselves. They don’t understand the value of a dollar.

While that might be true with some adolescents, it’s certainly not with all of them. Reporter Frank Sojak’s series in Sunday’s editions of The Tribune-Democrat looked at the growing number of young people from our region who are taking college courses while still in high school, and why they are doing it is quite impressive.

One student, Ligonier Valley’s Jessica Deem, estimates that she will save $50,000 by taking on the extra workload. Throw in the fact that she, along with three other local students, will basically pare two years off of their college education – thereby allowing them to enter the workforce two years earlier than their peers – and the savings could easily double or triple. That’s quite an eye-opener, and it’s a great endorsement for the Associate in High School program, which the students took through Pennsylvania Highlands Community College.

“It is so convenient to be able to pay a little bit of money per credit compared to the amount you’d pay in actual college,” Deem said. “You have to take the same high school classes you have to take anyway. At the end of high school, you would have credits already added up for college.”

That’s a mature attitude for a young adult, and it’s one that likely will pay off – literally and figuratively – in the long run.

Katelin Lindrose, a kindergarten teacher at Conemaugh Township

Elementary School, is already seeing the benefits of taking college credits while in high school. Thanks to the Penn Highlands

program she was able to graduate Greater Johns-town High School in

2009 with 18 credits that transferred to Penn State University. She graduated college earlier than her peers, was able to get an impressive student-teaching position and land a teaching job while some of her high school classmates are probably still trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives.

Penn Highlands is far from the only college that offers courses to area high school students; Allegany College of Maryland, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Mount Aloysius College, St. Francis University and the University of Pittsburgh do as well.

The fact that the courses are offered at a big discount to the per-credit price that students pay after they graduate high school is a great incentive for them and it helps the colleges land students that a well-suited to challenges of a post-secondary education.

The administrators and instructors at the local high schools and colleges deserve credit for coming together to make the programs work, and the students also earn kudos for their dedication and work ethic. The programs seem to be great for all involved.

That’s fantastic news for our region, which can only benefit by having a strong crop of motivated, passionate and intelligent young people who are not saddled with overwhelming financial debt upon graduation from college.

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