WCHS students will soon be able to get an associate degree while in high school thanks in part to the University of the Cumberlands
In a little less than three years from now, many Whitley County High School students will be walking across the stage to receive their degree, only not the one that you are probably thinking about.
In many cases this degree will be an associate’s degree from the University of the Cumberlands that the high school students will be receiving.
Given that college graduation ceremonies are typically in early May compared to late May for many high schools, these students will probably be receiving their associate degree before their high school diplomas.
This is all possible thanks to a new college degree opportunity involving a partnership between Whitley County High School and the University of the Cumberlands, which was announced during the Whitley County Board of Education’s monthly meeting Thursday.
“We are always looking for ways to give our students more opportunities and to better prepare them for life after high school. With the University of the Cumberlands so close by, it opens up many options for our students that they otherwise would not have. We have offered dual credit classes for quite some time, but this is the first time we will be able to have students graduating from high school having already earned a college degree,” said Superintendent John Siler.
Starting this school year, students entering the 10th grade at Whitley County High School will have the opportunity to enroll in a dual credit opportunity. Some of the degree options are information technology, criminal justice, business administration, human services, elementary education and general studies.
Many of the courses needed for the degree program are offered online but students will also have the option of taking some dual credit courses taught by high school teachers and taking classes on the campus of UC after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Interested students will need to work with their high school guidance counselor to set up a planned program for the degree program they are interested in.
The students will take between nine and 10 credit hours each semester their sophomore, junior and senior years.
The program will also require high school students to take six hours of summer school college classes between their sophomore and junior years, and another six hours of summer school college classes between their junior and senior years.
Officials noted that one advantage this will give students is that the college credit hours they will receive while in high school will be significantly cheaper than what they would pay taking classes on campus.
Dr. Trey Jarboe, Associate Vice-President for Enrollment at the University of the Cumberlands, said that in-seat classes at WCHS will cost $49.50 per class with online courses at UC costing about $145.50 per course. Summer classes will cost $199 per credit hour or about $600 for most summer classes.
“This is such a deal for our kids and their parents here in the community,” Siler added. “This is hugely discounted, and we are offering it to them early. I am just really proud of that partnership we have that has brought this opportunity to our students.”
Whitley County High School Guidance Counselor Dr. Britney Faulkner added that the high school’s dual credit scholarship pays the tuition rate for two classes.
“Really, a student could get out of this for very cheap. A tuition rate per a semester, even at a community college, is going to be somewhere around $7,000 a semester. This whole program might end up costing that, maybe,” Faulkner said.
Another advantage is that it would allow students to complete college in a lesser amount of time.
For students, who want to go into something that requires six years of education, two years of college can be completed during high school, then those students would only have to go to college for four years.
“They could be headed to medical school in two years instead of four. This is just another benefit saving them time. It is really for these students, who know this is the path that they want to go,” Jarboe said.