MARIETTA, OHIO— This spring, area high school seniors who participated in the College Credit Plus (CCP) program accounted for 10-percent of Washington State College of Ohio (WSCO) graduates. These 32 students are among a growing populations of students who have capitalized on the statewide initiative that provides 7th through 12th-grade students the opportunity to earn college credits at no charge. `Through participation in CCP, students build their confidence to continue further education.

CCP is Ohio’s dual enrollment program that provides students the chance to earn college and high school credits at the same time by taking courses from Ohio colleges or universities. It’s designed to enhance students’ career readiness and post-secondary success, while providing a wide variety of options to college-ready students. The program, which supports the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) ongoing work to transform the high school experience and inspire those students to identify pathways to future success, is offered at no or limited costs to students and families.

At the launch of the program’s fifth season last fall, ODE shared that during the 2018-2019 academic year CCP students earned 1,906 degrees and 744 certificates across Ohio. Overall, the program supported more than 73,000 students and resulted in tuition savings that topped $569 million. Locally, the figures are equally impressive with Washington State CCP students earning nearly 10,000 credits at a savings of nearly $1.5 million.

While the substantial time and money saved are significant contributing factors to the success of the program, CCP Coordinator Debbie Gurtis explains there are even greater benefits. Washington State CCP students praise how the program has prepared them for their next steps.

Marietta High School student Brook Copenhaver, earned two associate degrees, Liberal Arts and General Science, before she even received her high school diploma. She credits CCP with giving her a leg-up as she plans to pursue a law degree after completing her bachelor’s degree.

 “CCP has been incredibly helpful by introducing me to higher level classes and teaching me how to manage the responsibilities of a college student’s lifestyle,” Copenhaver said. “I am so grateful to this program. Washington State was an important step that has greatly influenced and encouraged my journey of higher education. This program has saved me roughly $50,000 in tuition and two years, which will allow me to graduate from OSU with my bachelor’s degree at 19.”

Carrington Foreman, who was enrolled in the Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy, graduated with associate degrees in Liberal Arts and General Science. She plans to attend Cedarville University and major in allied health on the Pre-Physician Assistants track. She explained that, “Washington State has equipped me for continuing my education in the health field. I am so grateful to the professors who helped me succeed in class and have helped prepare me for my future.”

While most CCP graduates tend to move on to pursue a bachelor’s degrees, some opt to continue their education at Washington State. Warren High School graduate Ryan Kerns, who earned his associate degree in general science, will return to WSCO and enroll in the associate degree nursing (ADN) program. Gurtis described this lateral pathway as a popular option because of the notoriety of WSCO’s nursing program, which is ranked in the top 5 programs in Ohio. She also pointed out that graduates from this program benefit from partnerships the college has with several Ohio institutions. She explained that the agreements provide clearly defined pathways that ease the transfer process so students can pursue a bachelor’s degree. Kerns, who was among a select group admitted into the competitive ADN program, is also a recipient of the Washington Scholars grant, which will pay his tuition while he completes the nursing program.

According to Gurtis, Washington State awards degrees annually to approximately 30 CCP graduates. This year, the institution also granted six one-year certificates, more than ever before. She attributes the shift to the college’s decision to encourage CCP students to declare a major, something that had not been practiced at WSCO when the program originally rolled out. “With the statewide focus on CCP students taking more technical courses and following technical pathways, it seemed like a natural fit,” said Gurtis. “It offers us the opportunity to reach the underserved CCP population.”

Pursuit of a technical degree often has the advantage of a one-year certificate built into the curriculum. While students who earn a certificate can opt to pursue a two-year associate degree, certification also provides students with a direct to employment opportunity for graduates.

“CCP is a valuable program that has evolved in response to the needs of our students, the state, and industry, both here in Ohio and across the nation,” Gurtis said. “It’s saving students time and money and serves as a springboard to their academic and career pathways.”

College Credit Plus is open to all Ohio college-ready students in grades 7-12. Students can earn up to 30 college credit hours per academic year, which includes the summer session, with a maximum of 120 college credit hours while enrolled in the program. It’s important to note, that while public colleges are free, courses taken at a private college may require a nominal financial investment. For additional information about the CCP program at WSCO, contact Debbie Gurtis at 740.568.1930.