College Credit Plus

Ohio high school students get jump start on education

College Credit Plus

By Marie Dunn Harris

At 20-years-old, Kathryn Knackstedt has already received her bachelor’s degree in biology and is now a first year master’s degree student. She was able to fast track her college education thanks to the College Credit Plus Program.

“When I first learned about it, it sounded like the greatest thing ever and I decided that I needed to do this,” said Knackstedt.

College Credit Plus is offered through the State of Ohio and is giving high school students the opportunity to earn college credits, for free. BGSU is one of several universities across Ohio participating in the program, formally known as PSEOP (Post Secondary Enrollment Options Program). 

College Credit Plus is the new and improved version of PSEOP and was approved by Ohio lawmakers in June 2014. Under PSEOP, colleges could set their own GPA requirements. Under this new model, colleges cannot institute a GPA standard higher than what is in place for undergraduate students.

“The goal of the legislation was to open more doors and remove barriers for high school students to start taking college courses,” said David Janik, director of pre-college programs.

Students can start the program as early as 7th grade. BGSU has courses or pathway recommendations for students in grades 7-10 that includes 15 college credit hours in the general education realm, or BG Perspective courses, that will transfer to any other Ohio public college or university. There is also a 30 college credit hour pathway recommendation for high school juniors and seniors. All students must meet the admissions standards for the college they’re attending before being accepted into the program. College advisers are then assigned to help them choose courses and understand how they apply toward undergraduate degree options.

“That adviser looks at their transcripts so they can get a sense of what subject areas the student excels at or where they’re doing really well, and what subject areas they’re finding very challenging,” said Janik.

High school students who participate in College Credit Plus have the option of taking online courses, traveling to campus, or in some cases, taking the college courses at their high school. 

“That’s where the real opportunity opens up,” said Janik. “One barrier for many students is transportation. So now, high schools are offering the college courses right on campus, taught by teachers who have their master’s degree or 18 college credit hours of graduate coursework in the discipline.”

Janik’s office plans to partner with Owens Community College’s College Credit Plus administrators and apply for a $1 million grant offered by the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Higher Education that would enable 83 high school teachers to go back to school and get their master’s degrees. 

“It would enable those teachers to get the 18 hours they need, six courses, to teach the college level courses at the high schools,” he said.

One benefit of students taking the courses on campus is that they get to experience campus life and make connections with BGSU faculty. 

Bailey Nichols travels to BGSU from Ottawa, Ohio, five days a week for her courses. 

“I have met some amazing people and I absolutely love the staff at BGSU. I love everything about the experience,” she said. 

Nichols began the College Credit Plus program her senior year of high school because she needed more of a challenge.

“I took AP and honors classes last year and it honestly wasn’t enough for me. I figured since they’re free college classes, it was a really good opportunity” she said.

Nichols has been accepted into the College of Business and plans to continue her education at BGSU, a decision that was easy to make.

“The goal of our advisers is to go over academic check sheets to see what the student needs to complete their major,” Janik said. “When it comes time to selecting colleges, that adviser can show them why staying here makes sense.”

For Knackstedt, staying at BGSU was an easy decision. 

“I made a lot of my core friends in the College Credit Plus program so it made sense for me to continue my education here,” she said.

Knackstedt started College Credit Plus at BGSU Firelands when she was a junior in high school. By the time she started on the main campus, she was considered a junior in college.

“It was great to get ahead of the game. Having less student loans is going to help me in the long run in being prepared for life,” she said.

For the fall 2015 semester, BGSU has a total of 1,067 students participating in the College Credit Plus program at both the Firelands and main campuses as well as out at partner high school sites.