By: Rachel Cain – Staff Writer
A new academic program in Ohio provides high school students with increased opportunities to earn college credits. College Credit Plus, which will debut in fall 2015, enables high school students to take free or low-costing college courses in their high schools, at university campuses, online.
“This is a big expansion of the push to get high school students the opportunity for college credit,” Michael Carter, senior advisor to the president at Sinclair Community College, told Dayton Business Journal Feb. 2. “Before, post-secondary options weren’t well publicized, when they could be able to save students a good deal of money.”
A new Ohio law has changed how the dual-enrollment operates for high school students who also wish to take college classes, according to the Dayton Business Journal. College Credit Plus, as a cohesive state-wide program, is designed to smooth over the confusion that resulted from different schools and districts operating under various post-secondary enrollment options.
All public high schools in Ohio will be required to offer College Credit Plus programs for juniors and seniors, according to Dayton Business Journal. However, students in grades seven through 12 are able to apply for admission to the College Credit Plus program, according to Ohio Higher Education’s official College Credit Plus webpage. Students are able to earn up to 30 college credit hours a year.
Alyssa Roeckner, a junior biology and psychology double major, took a community college course in addition to her advanced placement course load during her senior year of high school.
“I benefitted more from taking the community college class than the AP classes because the class wasn’t so test-oriented,” Roeckner said, referring to the advanced placement exam that determines whether students receive college credit. “[College Credit Plus] would be really good for students who are college-bound.”
Rachel Zinck, a senior at Mount Notre Dame High School in Reading, Ohio, agreed that advanced placement courses are too often exam-based.
“[The AP teachers’] goal is to get you that college credit. They structure the course around the test,” Zinck said. “It can be helpful, but if you want to explore an idea you find interesting, you’re not given that time in class.”
Each Ohio public high school has developed two sample pathways, one with 15 college credits and the other with 30, according to Ohio Higher Ed. However, students are not required to complete a pathway if they choose to enter the College Credit Plus program.
Although participation in College Credit Plus is mandatory for public colleges and universities, according to Ohio Higher Ed, private schools have the option to join the program as well.
Paul Vanderburgh, Ed.D., associate provost at UD, said UD has not decided whether or not to participate in the program yet.
“This is brand new,” Vanderburgh said. “So if we’re going to participate, we’d rather see how it evolves and have a clearer understanding of how this is going to work. So, we’re going to keep our ears and eyes focused on how this unfolds.”
If a student takes a course from a public college or university, then all the costs for tuition, books or fees are fully covered, according to Ohio Higher Ed. However, courses taken from private universities may entail a limited cost. In 2014 the maximum amount charged would have been up to $153 per credit hour, according to Ohio Higher Ed.
“This is a really interesting idea,” Vanderburgh said. “This could really help a lot of students with the cost of college.”
However, there is a flip side to this opportunity for low-cost college education.
“Less well-off kids have to consider this for financial reasons,” Thaddeus Masthay, a junior English and women and gender studies major, said. “This forces some kids to get into the college system when they’re not academically ready, and that’s not fair.”
Most entry-level college courses earned at one Ohio public college will transfer to another Ohio public college, according to Ohio Higher Ed. However, the credits received from private colleges or universities or students seeking to attend out-of-state schools will have their credits reviewed on a case-by-case basis, depending on the college.
Roeckner mentioned introducing college-level courses in high schools could add to students’ stress.
“For a lot of kids, there’s a lot of pressure put on them,” Roeckner said. “If you’re not taking the top classes, you’re not a good student.”
“Trying to make high school more and more like college is bad in my opinion because it removes the ability for high school kids to be kids,” Masthay said. “College is built with the idea that you’re going to get out and get a job. It’s a high stakes world.”
To read more about the state opportunities of College Credit Plus, go to www.ohiohighered.org/ccp/resources.