Walk into Professor Karen Harrison’s COM 220 class and you may be surprised to learn some of students are still enrolled in high school. Jordan-Elbridge Student Erica Shultz fits in so well and engages with OCC students. In fact, Schultz had to tell her professors on the first day that she still in high school.
Schultz and her classmate, Mary-Elizabeth Dristle, are part of a growing group of students participating in OCC’s Early College High School Program. High school students from local schools earn college credits on campus while enrolled in classes at their high school. The courses can be applied to an OCC degree once the students graduate and enroll at OCC.
Dristle and Schultz both start their day on the bus bound for OCC. When they arrive on campus, Schultz goes to her Business, Communications and Math classes. Dristle attends Psychology, Philosophy and Sociology classes. Both Schultz and Dristle have enjoyed having the college experience before graduating high school.
“The program is nice because you’re not going into college blind,” Schultz said, “You know how classes work and learn how to handle the workload.” They both agree that they wouldn’t have had the same experiences taking advanced placement courses in high school.
Dristle also says that she gets a more unique experience from her OCC classes. “I’m taking a medical Latin class for my high school English requirement. It’s a great way to fulfill my requirement in a way I’d never be able to in high school.”
After Dristle and Schultz finish their classes at OCC, they hop on the bus and return to school for lunch. After lunch they take their high school classes and do any after school programs.
“The great part of the timing is you can still do extra circulars after school,” Schultz said. Schultz acts in the high school plays while Dristle runs for her school’s cross country team.
“It has been a really great experience,” Dristle says, “One I’d highly recommend others do to prepare for college.”
OCC’s Early College High School Program currently includes Jordan-Elbridge High School and will add Marcellus, Skaneateles, Syracuse Academy of Science, Central Square, Sandy Creek, Oswego, Phoenix, Pulaski, Fulton, Mexico and Hannibal schools in the Fall.