Session focuses on new program

Published 7:22 pm Saturday, February 25, 2012

Beaufort County Community College will hold an information session about the Beaufort Career and College Academy at 6:30 p.m. March 5.

The new program gives eligible high-school students the opportunity to take college courses tuition-free.

The session will be held in the auditorium of Building 8 on the BCCC campus. It is designed for rising high-school juniors or seniors from public, private and home schools, as well as their parents, teachers, guidance counselors and school personnel.

The academy’s goal is to provide eligible high-school students with the opportunity to speed the completion of college certificates, diplomas and degrees that lead to transfer to a four-year college or university or provide entry-level job skills while the students are still in high school, according to Wesley Beddard, BCCC’s dean of instruction.

A key benefit is that all of the college courses in this program are tuition free. That could mean a savings of more than $25,000 toward a four-year degree at a public university for college-bound high school graduates and could mean a better-paying job for students pursuing technical careers, he said.

For many years, BCCC offered college classes to high-school students through various programs created by the state Legislature. In 2009, state lawmakers eliminated funding that enabled BCCC and other community colleges to offer most general-education courses. This prevented enrollment in many of the most popular courses — such as art, economics, English, history, and psychology — for high-school students, according to Beddard.

During the 2011 session, the state Legislature appropriated funds for the Governor’s Career and College Promise Program. The major difference between the previous community-college programs for high-school students and Career and College Promise is that high-school students must now apply and be admitted into a specific “educational pathway” in order to take any course at a community college, Beddard said.

In previous years, students could take a random selection of courses. The academy offers students a structured sequence of courses that lead to an academic credential, such as a technical or college-transfer certificate or diploma.

BCCC will offer three college-transfer pathways and 10 career and technical pathways. Each pathway has specific admissions and eligibility requirements.

While the information session will focus primarily on the college opportunities available for rising juniors and seniors, younger students and their parents are encouraged to attend as well, Beddard said.

“As students develop their four-year, high-school plan of study, knowing about the educational options of the Career and College Academy can help maximize learning opportunities and shorten the amount of time needed to complete a college degree — resulting in significant savings on college costs,” Beddard said. “This is an exciting opportunity for local high school students. We hope a large number of students and parents will come out to learn more about the Beaufort Career and College Academy.”