Local high school students earn college credit while still in high school

ELDRIDGE, Iowa (KWQC) -- Graduation season means lots of high school grads are heading off to college, but many have already started through college credits they earned in high school. Classes are offered locally at no costs to students.

Things are sizzling at North Scott Senior High School. These junior and seniors are learning more than just cooking a good dish.

“This is definitely one of my favorite ones because of all the hands-on activity we get to do,” said Reece Sommers, a student.

Hands-on activity that's also preparing them for life after high school. The culinary class is just one of the 32 college courses the school offers.

“It provides an opportunity for our kids that we didn't have before and it's a start to a great career,” said Shane Knoche, North Scott Senior High School Principal.

Reece Sommers a senior at North Scott will soon start college at the University of Iowa.

“Taking college courses gets pretty expensive with all the textbooks and stuff. To take as many credits as possible and save as much money as possible is definitely a big benefit to these college classes,” said Knoche.

The concurrent enrollment program is a partnership Eastern Iowa Community Colleges has with 24 different area high schools. The program allows students to earn college credit while still in high school. Their goal is to help expose students to a variety of options. Cherie Henningsen is one of the teachers at North Scott that’s qualified to teach the courses. She says the difference in students is huge.

“I think it's valuable that the students at the high school level get to take college-level courses. Gives them an opportunity to see what other fields are out there,” said Cherie Henningsen, North Scott Senior High School teacher.

Sommers says he's glad he's in the class because he and his classmates know life after high school goes beyond North Scott.

“By the time I graduate I am going to have around 30 college credits. It's really cool to have that kind of benefit over some of the other students that start in college with me next year,” said Sommers.

The 32 courses North Scott offers are taught by the high school teachers. Who have the same credentials as the professors at Eastern Iowa Community colleges. However, students have the option to earn more credits online or at the college campus, but they would have to pay for those themselves.

This year, more than 2,500 local high school seniors earned over 34,000 credit hours with Eastern Iowa Community Colleges. Saving a total of 5.6 million dollars. All of the classes can be transferred to other colleges, as well.

A representative with Eastern Iowa Community Colleges says some students that have participated in concurrent enrollment are graduating with their associate's degree by the time they graduate high school.