West Virginia high schools being offered WSCC classes

West Virginia students who want to get an early start in college will have that opportunity starting in the fall semester at Washington State Community College.

Offered to students in grades 10-12, the Bridge to College program will let students earn credits toward a liberal arts transfer degree or general sciences transfer degree, said Debbie Gurtis, assistant director of advising, and early college coordinator, at WSCC.

The program is offered to 12 West Virginia counties in the college’s reciprocity areas, including Brooke, Hancock, Jackson, Marshall, Ohio, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Wetzel, Wirt and Wood counties.

“Those students will be taking online courses with us,” Gurtis said of the counties which aren’t commutable to WSCC.

The West Virginia program will be structured differently from what is currently offered to Ohio high school students.

“Ohio students can take up to 30 credit hours per year, including summer semester,” Gurtis said. “They can take a total of 120 credit hours for their high school years.”

West Virginia students in grade 10 can take one class per semester, and two classes per semester their junior and senior years.

More than 800 Ohio high school students are taking classes through WSCC as of spring semester, she added.

“We had about 301 students on campus and 527 taking courses at their high schools,” Gurtis said.

The college works with about 23 different high school partners, whether through online enrollment or on campus. As this is a state-wide program, students can choose any college in the state.

She said younger students are starting with the College Credit Plus classes. They are able to take general education courses, which meet high school requirements.

“Since 2015, we’ve seen the numbers of students gradually increasing,” Gurtis said. “The high schools are starting to offer dual-enrollment at the schools.”

She said for a high school teacher to be able to teach CCP courses, they have to have a master’s degree in the subject area they are to teach. When more teachers get their master’s degrees, Gurtis said she expects to see the dual-enrollment numbers increase.

The classes for West Virginia students are $49 per credit hour after applying the $100 per credit hour scholarship.

“Basically it offers the students a lower tuition rate so the $100 less per tuition rate is considered a scholarship,” said Elizabeth Godfrey, director of marketing and public relations. “They don’t have to do a separate scholarship application.”

She said students interested in the program can apply with a paper application or through the college’s website at https://www.wscc.edu/future/early-college/bridge-college/.

Godfrey said students can earn credits toward their high school graduation requirements, but also fulfill credits for a transfer degree program.

“The credits could go into the transfer or into an associate or certificate program,” she explained. “We’re working for transfer options for West Virginia schools like WVU or Marshall.”

She said more information will be available as the program expands, but the early college program is a great way for “career exploration to see what they are interested in.”

When students apply, they will be asked for their high school transcripts and there may be placement tests or prerequisites to be completed.

“It’s on a first-come, first-served basis when it comes to the scholarship,” Godfrey said. “The sooner they apply, the better.”

She added there is no grade point average requirement, which will hopefully open the program to a lot more students.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.