Mixing high school, college a smart thing

Ask the five high school students who are enrolled in an English Comp I class at OCCC why they chose concurrent enrollment and you’ll get a mixed bag of answers — to save money, get a jump-start on college credits and become more familiar with a college setting before high school graduation.

Jon Horinek, Admissions and Recruitment director, said all of those answers are valid.

Concurrent classes allow high school juniors and seniors to also earn college credit prior to graduation — and OCCC or the state pick up most of the tab.

Between 500 and 600 high school students take classes on the OCCC campus each semester, Horinek said.

He said he knows of students who have graduated from high school with as many as 15 to 18 hours of college credit already completed.

“ … [That] can really add up to some cost savings once they get to a four-year or two-year institution … .”

Horinek said OCCC will waive tuition for up to six credit hours a semester beginning the summer before a student’s junior year.

“That’s waiving 18 credit hours a year … ,” he said. “You can do that for two years, so you really could save a lot of money by taking … general education requirements through concurrent enrollment.”

Cole Pancoast, Mustang High School senior, said he decided to take concurrent classes to help him complete his basic general education courses faster.

“I figured [I] might as well get it out of the way,” Pancoast said.

Horinek said concurrent students also are more likely to complete a degree.

“ … The earlier students can have a college-level experience, the more likely they are to continue and the more successful they will be,” he said.

Holly Salem, Westmoore High School senior, will have taken four concurrent classes by the end of this semester. She said it’s one of the best decisions she has made.

“I recommend it to anybody [who] is wanting to go to college because I know … I feel better about transitioning from high school to college by taking the classes that I took.”

Norman North High School senior Alexandrea Bailey said she enjoys the different atmosphere.

“People mind their own business here,” Bailey said.

“There’s people trying to focus and you’re not having to ignore a ton of noise to try and focus.”

Horinek said it’s not without it’s hardships such as the possibility of a bigger course load.

Pancoast said he has found that to be true.

“I think it’s about the same [level of difficulty as high school classes.]

“I think it’s just a little more work,” he said.

Horinek said concurrently enrolled students need to keep in mind that the grades on their college transcript follows them throughout their academic career so it’s important to attend classes and do the work.

“… It’s very easy for a high school student who has never had a college classroom experience to sort of equate this as just an extensions of high school,” he said. “It’s not.”

Bailey said she learned that lesson the hard way. She is having to retake a class.

“I didn’t go last semester that often so I didn’t get a very good grade,” she said.

Horinek recommends students start by taking one concurrent class to see if they like it.

“We want the college to complement your high school experience … ,” he said. “Really, it should be part of the high school experience, not a substitution.”

Horinek said there are steps to becoming a concurrent student.

“ … (First) you have to get permission from your parents and from the high school counselor to participate in concurrent enrollment even if you qualify,” he said.

Miranda Baumgardner, Bridge Creek High School senior, said she sought her parents’ input on taking concurrent classes.

“My parents kind of encouraged me but it was mostly my decision,” she said.

Horinek said the next step is to take the ACT.

He said although students are able to use their GPA for admission, ACT scores are used for course readiness requirements.

Horinek said anyone who plans to go to college should consider concurrent enrollment.

“We have data that shows the earlier that students have a college-level experience, the better off they’re going to be.

“Additionally with the rising cost of tuition, you can get some transfer credits from good quality instructors … that will transfer anywhere,” he said. “That’s an advantage for you and your family.”

For more information, visit www.occc.edu/admissions/concurrent, call Horinek at 405-682-1611, ext.

7743, or email jhorinek@occc.edu.

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