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Ohio High School Seniors Get College Credit for Free
February 9, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Nearly 400 high school seniors in Ohio are taking advantage of a pilot program that allows them to enroll in and attend college a year early for free, according to BusinessWeek ("Ohio Students Jump Early to College for Free," Feb. 5, 2009).

Supporters of the Seniors to Sophomores initiative, including Gov. Ted Strickland, hope the prospect of a free education will entice more Ohio students to pursue a college education in a state where only one in five adults is a college graduate.

Currently, 375 high school seniors are participating in the dual-enrollment program, which allows students to receive both high school and college credit for the classes they take on college campuses, but they don't have to pay a dime of their college expenses. These students take college courses either full- or part-time but are still officially enrolled in high school.

Kristen Figg, associate dean at Kent State University Salem campus, supports the program, but says there is still some risk involved for the students.

"If they don't pass the course then they are going to have a problem graduating from high school."

High school senior Catherine Packer describes the program as an academic challenge, "There's no leeway when you're taking college classes. The teachers expect more." But the senior, who is dually enrolled at Mifflin High School in Columbus and at Ohio State University, says it's worth it because "The environment is different. Students actually want to learn."

Ohio is not the first nor is it the only state to offer dual-enrollment programs; dual-enrollment was initiated in Iowa in 1997 and currently only four states don't offer statewide programs. However, BusinessWeek reports, not all programs include free tuition — 22 of the 46 states with dual-enrollment programs require students to pay tuition.

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