High School Students Pursue Associate's Degrees Along with Their Diplomas

By Catherine Groux
Posted May 23, 2012 07:14 AM

Some high schoolers are working toward their associate's degree, along with a diploma.
Some high schoolers are working toward their associate's degree, along with a diploma.
Today, many high schools across the country encourage students to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which allow them to earn college credit if they receive a high score on their end-of-year exam. These courses are designed to give students a head start on their college careers and also help them get used to the level of work they can expect to see at a university.

While AP courses have proven efficient in giving students a jump start on postsecondary education, some high schools are taking it a step further by allowing pupils to earn an associate's degree while they work toward their high school diploma.

Pathways in Technology Early College High School opened in New York this year, enrolling 103 ninth-grade students, The New York Times reports. At this institution, students follow a six-year plan that awards them an associate's degree upon graduation.

Rashid F. Davis, principal of the school, told the Times that from the very beginning, students are given the goal of earning their associate's degree rather than simply graduating from high school in four years. With this intention in mind, he hopes his students will be driven to not only complete their associate's degree at the institution, but also continue to earn a bachelor's degree at a four-year school.

"So this six-year model may seem like a long time, but if students are tasting success and given an opportunity where they can see themselves working as a professional in an industry, we hope to make a dent in the completion of postsecondary education," Davis told the Times.

While Pathways in Technology may seem unique, it is not the only high school in the nation that is encouraging its students to earn associate's degrees. At Texas' Cedar Hill Collegiate High School, students also have the option of earning this credential, the institution's website states. In fact, with their high school graduation about three weeks away, 51 seniors have already received their associate's degrees from Cedar Valley College, CBS reports.

For many students attending Cedar Hill, one of the best parts about earning an associate's degree is the ability to transfer to a four-year school as a junior, saving them the high cost of two years of college.

"I have a big family," student Ashley McCloud told CBS. "Getting two years free was a big plus for my family."

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