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High school students graduate with dual degrees

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It always good to get a head start.

That’s case for five graduating seniors in Southern Illinois this spring.

Christopher senior Courtney Young and four seniors from Vienna High School — Taylour Daubert, Sabrina Hinkle, Megan McCuan and Randy Reeder — recently graduated from their respective high schools while also getting a degree from a community college.

Young, who also graduated from Rend Lake College, has been working to reach this personal goal since the summer before her junior year nearly two years ago. She said the plan was to give her a head start in college and on scholarship applications by enrolling in RLC’s dual credit and dual enrollment programs.

“Reaching this achievement has been very surreal for me,” Young said in a news release from Rend Lake College. “Graduating from Rend Lake College before I graduate from high school has been a goal of mine since the summer after my sophomore year. To finally have reached this goal is such an incredible feeling. It’s really indescribable. This achievement has certainly helped when it comes to filling out scholarship applications. It’s pretty awesome to be able to say I’m graduating from RLC with an associate degree in both arts and science.”

At Vienna High School, it’s the third consecutive year its had multiple students get associate degrees at Shawnee Community College.

“We continue to be impressed with the goals that our students set and reach,” said Vienna High School Curriculum Director Joshua Stafford in a news release. “We are proud of our staff that has stepped up to plate so that quality college credit opportunities can be provided. We hope to do everything possible to continue in providing quality instructions while attempting to overcome the funding crisis for education in Illinois.”

Overall, Vienna’s Class of 2015 completed nearly 2,000 credit hours toward college degrees through the dual credit/enrollment partnership with the local community colleges. These hours have been earned not only through dual credit offerings at the high school, but also by students attending classes at the college, both online and at the colleges’ campuses.

“These students are to be commended for achieving this milestone,” said Shawnee Community College President Tim Bellamey. “This is very difficult to accomplish and requires tremendous dedication and effort. A strong dual enrollment partnership between SCC and VHS helped make this possible.”

It’s the same at Rend Lake, where each year, hundreds of students like Young take advantage of RLC’s dual credit and dual enrollment programs which allow high school students to take college-level courses tuition-free.

“Courtney took advantage of RLC’s dual credit courses, which are taken during the day for credit at Christopher High School, as well as at RLC, plus the dual enrollment courses during each semester and the summer,” said Lisa Price, vice president of student services at Rend Lake. “She also enrolled in some online courses that helped push her toward her goal. Altogether, Courtney saved her family approximately $6,000 in tuition.”

In addition to Young, Christopher enrolled 118 students into the RLC programs for a total of 481 credit hours and $45,695 in tuition savings. Mount Vernon Township High School had the most participants in the programs with 981 for a total of 3,077 total credit hours and savings of $292,315 in tuition.

“Dual enrollment classes are not something to be taken lightly; they take time and effort. It’s extremely important that those wishing to do what I have develop good time management skills and only take on what they’re capable of,” Young said. “I also suggest taking advantage of instructors’ office hours and the Writing Center and Math Lab on campus. All of these resources are incredibly helpful, and I am extremely grateful that they were available during my time at RLC.”

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