College credit plus

Program allows students to accelerate their learning

PEYTON NEELY The Marietta Times Warren High School Sophomore Trinity Myers works with student advisor Jason Halbleib to get enrolled for fall classes at Washington State Community College on Wednesday.

It’s graduation season and several area high schools not only have seniors graduating with high school diplomas but also their associate degrees from Washington State Community College as well.

College Credit Plus has made it possible for 24 students to accelerate their learning with a few graduating with more than one degree.

“This is a pretty average yearly number for us,” said College Credit Plus coordinator Debbie Gurtis. “It’s very exciting to give this opportunity to our students and allow them to earn college credit in college.”

Students can start as early as their freshman year in high school and enroll at Washington State Community College. This year, Warren High School alone will have eight CCP graduates. Other schools with CCP graduates include Belpre High School, Eastern High School, Fort Frye High School and Shenandoah High School, which all with one graduate. Marietta High School has four graduates, Caldwell High School has five graduates and Frontier High School has three graduates.

Warren High School’s Brody Gilliand, 18, is graduating with a Liberal Arts transfer degree and plans to attend Ohio University in the fall.

“This was certainly a good route for me,” he said. “I thought of it this way, staying at the high school would kind of be a waste of time and I wanted to challenge myself. Plus, why would I stay at the high school when I could get college credit for free?”

Gilliand said he’s always heard great things about the CCP program and knew this was something that would help with his educational outcome in the future.

“Being at the college has taught me so many things. I learned how to do school on my own and be more responsible,” he said. “Everyone at Washington State wants you to succeed no matter who they are. That’s reassuring.”

Diversity was a big change for Gilliand but he said he learned to adjust to it.

“I’m in a classroom sometimes with people old enough to be my grandparents,” he said. “I learned how to work with different people rather than just kids my age.”

Fort Frye graduate Zach Eddy enrolled in College Credit Plus as a junior in high school. He is now 22 and graduates from Michigan State University College of Law this Friday. Without earning his associate degree as a high school student, he said he knew he would be in school an additional seven years after graduating high school.

“When I was a sophomore, I attended a session learning about my options I had at Washington State,” he said. “I knew that was something I wanted to do. My junior and senior years, I was at Washington State pretty much full-time and only went back to the high school for basketball and baseball.”

Upon graduating from high school and WSCC, Eddy transferred 68 college credits to Marietta College where he enrolled as a second-semester junior at just 17. He then pursued a degree in political science, knowing practicing law was something he wanted to do.

“My time at Marietta College was a lot of fun. I had several great experiences including interning with Marietta City’s law director and at the office of Congressman Bill Johnson,” said Eddy.

Eddy graduated Marietta College at 19 and earned a full ride for academics to Michigan State University College of Law.

“Anybody that wants to go on and really do something that requires a lot of schooling, this route is worth taking,” he said. “I enjoyed my time immensely at Marietta College and I really don’t feel like I missed out on too much. In the end, having two free years of schooling completed while in high school weighed too heavily over being in college the full four years.”

This summer, Eddy will be studying hard for the Ohio Bar exam he takes in July. After completion of that, Eddy will be working as an associate for Bricker and Eckler Attorneys at Law in Columbus.

“Being accepted into law school at just 19 years old was interesting and also something I was questioned about a lot but it was worth it,” said Eddy.

Starting her sophomore year, Caldwell High School’s Katey DePuy, 17, has said she’s enjoyed every minute of her CCP experience.

“When I came into this as a sophomore, I was nervous I’ll admit, but now I think this experience has exceeded my expectations,” she said. “I can’t wait to transfer to a four-year college now.”

DePuy said she’s considering The Ohio State University but isn’t quite sure yet. She is almost certain she wants to do something with medicine.

“I’m just so thankful for this opportunity because it’s crazy cool that I’m able to graduate next year with not just a high school diploma but also a general science transfer,” said DePuy.

By the numbers

Number of College Credit Plus graduates per school.

¯ Belpre High School – 1 graduate.

¯ Caldwell High School – 5 graduates.

¯ Eastern High School – 1 graduate.

¯ Fort Frye High School – 1 graduate.

¯ Frontier High School – 3 graduates.

¯ Marietta High School – 4 graduates.

¯ Shenandoah High School – 1 graduate.

¯ Warren High School – 8 graduates.

Source: Debbie Gurtis, college credit plus coordinator for Washington State Community College