The Walters family knows an outstanding opportunity when it sees one. The new OCC Advantage program is as good as it gets. “It’s a gift. It’s incredible,” said Kate Walters. “We’re thrilled for all the hard work everyone did for us to be able to participate in this.”
Walters and her family live in the East Syracuse Minoa (ESM) School District. ESM and Solvay are the first two school districts taking part in OCC Advantage, a new and unique college-readiness and scholarship program. Students who earn a “C” average and show improvement while achieving other benchmarks will be eligible to attend OCC tuition-free. The program contains three main components:
- Performance – Students need to maintain a 2.0 grade point average and show gradual improvement throughout high school.
- Attendance – Students will be required to meet attendance goals throughout their four years.
- Community Service – Students will perform community service as part of the OCC Advantage program.
Upon graduation from high school each member of the Class of 2020 who has successfully completed the program will have the opportunity to attend OCC tuition-free. Once enrolled in the College students will have two years to complete work toward an associate degree or certificate, preparing them for a career or transfer to a four-year institution. During their time on campus students must continue to meet minimum grade point average requirements and perform community service.
For the Walters family the timing couldn’t be better. Their daughter Robin will graduate from ESM this year and attend Ithaca College in the fall. Their son Jack is a freshman at ESM and future member of the graduating class of 2020. OCC Advantage will take care of his first two years of college tuition costs. “I thought it was pretty cool people could go to college for free,” said Jack Walters. “It will help me save money for where I want to go after OCC.”
It’s too soon for Walters to know for sure what he’ll major in. Outside class he works at the school television station, participates in dance competitions and is a hurdler and long jumper on the Track & Field team. His father has taken classes at OCC and understands what a value OCC Advantage is. “It’s a great opportunity. We’re pretty excited about it,” said Jeff Walters.