A head start on college
It was bound to happen. An Indiana student graduated from Ivy Tech Community College before he graduated from high school.
Both courses of study were completed this spring by Jacob Brown, an Indianapolis charter high school student. Commencement at Ivy Tech happened to come up first on the calendar.
With a two-year head start, 66 college credits under his belt and a tuition savings of $7,200, Jacob is heading into his third year of college at the ripe old age of 18. What a deal.
Still, it is understandable if students aren’t lining up to replicate Jacob’s achievement. Such an undertaking isn’t for everyone. It means a very long school day, relentless homework demands and little time for extracurricular activities. It also means a full load in the summer.
What should be for everyone, however, is the opportunity to take early college classes while in high school. Every academically prepared high school student in Indiana, with this state’s expansive community college system, ought to have access to early college, dual credit or both. As it is now, about 18,000 Hoosier high school students a year take some early college classes. Because of Ivy Tech’s reciprocation agreements, their credits are transferable to state universities.
It’s no wonder Ivy Tech is bursting at the seams throughout the state. The college set records in enrollment at its campuses across northern Indiana this spring semester. Enrollment was maxed out in nearly a hundred courses at the South Bend site.
It should be obvious to all that Ivy Tech has grown to meet an important need in Indiana: accessible, affordable higher education and, in the case of Jacob and his 18,000 peers, early higher education.
Every taxpayer dollar spent on increasing students’ access to college is a dollar well spent. Indiana will be a stronger, more economically competitive state because of it. It’s the responsibility of taxpayers and legislators to make sure that Ivy Tech is prepared for the higher still enrollment demands it is sure to face in coming years.
There also is a challenge facing primary, intermediate and secondary schools: to ensure that Hoosier children are academically ready for higher education. As it is, many graduate from high school only to find that they must complete college remediation courses. That slows students down at a time when they’re excited about moving ahead with their educations.
Indiana educators at all levels must be ready for the challenges these students present.
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