CCP graduates Gretchen Lankford (Marietta High School), Mary Estes (Warren High School), and Alyssa Snyder (Frontier High School).

MARIETTA, OHIO— Washington State College of Ohio (WSCO) will recognize 323 students during its commencement ceremony on Saturday. Included among the degree candidates are 49 area teenagers who took advantage of the early college option, College Credit Plus (CCP), and earned a degree while in high school.

CCP is a state initiative in Ohio designed to provide 7th through 12th-grade students the opportunity to earn college credits at no cost to them. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to enhance students’ postsecondary success and career readiness, while proving them exposure to a variety of opportunities. Each spring, prior to receiving a high school diploma, approximately 40 high school seniors are awarded degrees and certificates by WSCO. However, this year is especially significant as it marks the highest number of CCP students to graduate from WSCO. These graduates then have the credentials necessary to transfer to a four-year school or transition to the job market.

Gretchen Lankford, who will receive her Liberal Arts transfer degree, estimates CCP will save her as much as three full semesters and $65,000 in tuition. The Marietta High School senior plans to go to the private institution Xavier University and major in Psychology. “I love [my CCP experience]. It has been the best decision I made in high school and I actually tell my younger friends to get involved sooner. That’s my one regret–not starting classes sooner.”

Lankford is among the nearly 77,000 students enrolled in Ohio’s CCP program. With the option to take one class or many classes, the early college option translates into significant savings. In fact, the state of Ohio reported that CCP saved students more than $155 million in tuition last year (savings based on full standard tuition rates at public colleges) translating into less student debt and accelerated bachelor degree completion.

In addition to transfer options, CCP also helps students gain in-demand credentials to enter the workforce. Mary Estes is a Warren High School senior who will graduate with a Practical Nursing certificate. The one-year program is among several certificate programs offered by WSCO that can result in immediate employment prospects for its graduates. Estes said initially she was focused on completing her general education courses to help offset the requirements of her ambitions to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. However, she decided, that “I just wanted to be able to get a job when I graduated high school.” She based her decision on her desire to have greater opportunities. “This way, if I want to start working and gradually go on to school, I have that option.” She added that graduating with a credential for a career with excellent employment prospects also gives her peace of mind. “With everything going on, I know that I will be able to get a job.”

Saturday’s commencement ceremony will be held at Dyson Baudo Recreation Center on the Marietta College campus. The student commencement address will be given by CCP graduate and Frontier High School Senior Alyssa Snyder. She has served as a WSCO Ambassador and speaks to younger students about its many benefits. This fall she will continue her education at Ohio University where she has been admitted into the honors program. She plans to major in Human Biology with a long-term goal to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine.

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.