By SARAH GALZERANO
Do you, or somebody you know need to get their high school diploma, but can’t attend high school? Instead of earning a GED (if standardized tests are not your strong suit), there is an interesting “alternative” that New Jersey offers through community colleges, where you can earn a state-issued high school diploma. It’s called the Thirty-College Credit Route Program, and you can participate in it at CCC.
To apply for NJ’s Thirty-College Credit Route you must be 16+ years of age. All courses must be college level (remedial classes don’t count). Students taking this program are required to take three credits in each, English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies (like classes taken in high school). Also required, are six total credits between the categories of Performing Arts, Health/Phys. Ed., Technology, and 21st Century Life and Careers. This leaves 12 credits for electives. The student must also maintain a minimum of a C (2.0) grade point average. There is no time limit when completing this program.
To sign up for this program you can submit a free application at http://www.cccnj.edu. To become a viable applicant, you need to pass the Accuplacer entrance exam. You can take the exam at CCC’s center for Academic and Student Success (Monday 9am-2pm, Tuesday 9am-2pm, 4pm-7pm, Wednesday and Thursday 1pm-7pm). Next, you can meet with an advisor to help you register for classes that meet the program’s requirements.
I interviewed 18-year-old, Chase Farabella, Criminal Justice major, who participated in this program last year at CCC. He attended Sacred Heart High School before it closed. He benefitted by transferring here, because the tuition was cheaper than at his private high school. Chase was able to share a lot with me about his experience in this program. He liked it better than high school because of the flexibility of his schedule. He also found it easier than high school, because he could take courses geared towards his career choice (which you can’t do at every high school). Chase also shared that this program made him a lot more focused on his future. When asked if he would recommend this program to others, he said, “Yes, because it can put you ahead (depending on your age) and possibly save you money.”
I also interviewed Program advisor Diana Appel, who has been assisting students through this program for approximately five years.
Q: How many students have you helped through this program?
A: This past spring nine students obtained their high school diploma via the 30-college credit route. At least two received their CCC degree as well.
Q: Do you enjoy working with this program? Why?
A: I enjoy working with the program because it is a pleasure to work with motivated students. It’s a comprehensive program and students can complete the 30 credits within two semesters.
Q: Do you think this program is a good opportunity/ alternative for adults who never graduated, or teenagers that just can’t deal with high school? Why?
A: Well, it can potentially be a great alternative for many people. For the adult who is determined to complete their degree, obtaining their high school diploma, as part of the process may be a huge stepping-stone; and, this could mean employment opportunities. As far as “teenagers”, there are several things to consider. I guess if a student “can’t deal” with high school, I would want to know why? The expectations of a college student are demanding- if they want to be successful, they need to have good time management skills, critical thinking and be responsible for the commitment they are making to higher education. They will learn a lot as they go through the process; however, the right (positive) attitude plays a huge part if they want to be successful. This applies to all students. For a student who is thinking about leaving high school to follow this alternative, I caution them to think about missing their prom(s), high school graduation, and they are not eligible to play a sport, etc. In the college environment, they will encounter more diversity with students from surrounding counties and age groups. There is a higher level of maturity in course content and expression. Also, students must have the financially ability to pay for college since they are not eligible for financial aid (even if they qualify).
Q: What kind of student should a person be to enter this program?
A: I would say the student should be one who is mature-minded and goal-oriented, “ready” to achieve this milestone in his or her life. They need to understand the specific requirements and be prepared to see the coursework through its completion. Students are treated like adults and are held accountable when they register for classes. They have independence and freedom but along with that is the responsibility to be studious and do their best. They should be disciplined and take advantage of the resources that are available such as tutoring if needed and meeting with advisors that can help provide guidance.
One downfall of this program is the cost factor, if you’re used to free schooling. Students participating in the Thirty-College Credit Route are not eligible for financial aid, NJ Stars, or School Counts. This means that an average semester (5, 3 credit classes) would cost $2,100 (not including book fees). Some people can’t afford this, which is why this route doesn’t work for everyone.
However, the Thirty-College Credit Route Program can help you out in the long run. It might be easier to accomplish for adults, but it’s a great learning experience for teenagers. If a student enters this program at 16 and finishes it in a year, he not only “graduated” high school a year in advance, but he’s also now a sophomore in college at the age of 17. This will open up great opportunities, and who doesn’t want to be a part of that?