ANKENY, Iowa – Some high school students graduating this year will earn both a diploma and an associate’s degree.
Des Moines Area Community College partners with 64 schools to allow students as early as ninth grade to start earning college credits.
Ankeny High School Senior Nick Alger said the college courses helped him find a career path.
“Before the summer, I definitely had some thoughts going between law and medicine. And then when I got out and got exposed to some of the different medical practices that I could pursue, I really started to enjoy it. I started to feel out my passion for medicine,” Alger said.
Over 17,000 high school students earned college credit in 2016.
Ankeny High School Principal Jeff Hawkins said high school students take the classes for free.
“We pay DMACC for the courses that students are enrolled in. It’s worked into our budget and the funding formula from the state to help support both Ankeny schools and DMACC,” Hawkins said.
High School students have three options when it comes to earning college credit:
- Take an online course
- Take an on-campus course
- Take a course at the high school
Alger said his parents are happy with all the money they saved.
“It’s been really helpful, and it has allowed me a lot of freedom to not only explore what I want to do, but to give me some choice on where I want to go. [It’s] freed up some of my time like I said to pursue those higher-level credits,” Alger said.
Hawkins said teachers are properly trained at DMACC before teaching a college course at the school.
“A lot of that decision is made based upon the qualification of the instructors. It is our responsibility as a district to make sure we are hiring teachers with the right educational and work backgrounds to be able to have the right experience needed,” Hawkins said.
Ankeny High School Senior Ashley Truman said she started taking college courses her freshman year.
“I took an English class where I read a bunch of books and analyzed them. I took mythology, science fiction, mostly English classes though,” Truman said.
Both Truman and Alger will graduate high school in the spring and earn an associate’s degree from DMACC.