Completing High School While Working towards Your Bachelor’s Degree
Thousands of high-achieving, high school students around the world have taken advantage of a unique program offered through community colleges in Washington State. High school graduation programs at participating Washington State community colleges provide the opportunity for international students who have completed high school junior (eleventh grade) to complete their high school diploma and earn a college credit for an associate's degree. (Associate degree undergraduate years 1 and 2) Students can transfer their associate degree to universities across the United States and complete the final two years to earn a bachelor's degree.
“I can combine college courses with my high school diploma at a cheaper cost than finishing high school in Indonesia. I want to move to the Washington Foster School of Business, ”explained Helena Hurai, an international business student at Seattle Colleges.
Dual enrollment, which is when students earn both high school and college credit for the same course, is not unique to Washington State schools. Across the country, it is believed that more than ten million high school students are taking at least one college class. American and international students who have taken advantage of such "dual enrollment" programs are able to explore a wide range of courses at community colleges and complete many of the "general education" requirements required for graduation, if not degrees.
The study found that, in fact, students taking dual-enrolled classes transfer to universities and achieve higher grades after completing their bachelor's degree than those who do not have this rigorous, academically challenging and confidence-building experience. College classes are different than high school. A college-level class often has strict requirements, both in terms of expected student participation and quality of work. A community college course typically includes a wider variety of classmates of different ages and backgrounds.
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However, many states in the United States do not enroll international students in these dual enrollment programs. These are available in Washington State. Each of the community colleges in Washington State that provides the program has a slightly different model of how high school graduation programs are run. At several community colleges, students submit transcripts from their high school and then enroll in the college for the classes required to meet Washington State High School's postgraduate requirements. Some classes taken in college for a high school diploma may also meet the requirements for their associate's degree, but some classes may not. Once a student receives a high school diploma, they may continue on to community college and complete an associate's degree or transfer to another higher education institution. Associate degree level college credits earned upon completion of a high school diploma are usually transferred with them.
Other community colleges in the state of Washington admit 11th graders directly to associate degrees (1 year and 2 undergraduate degrees) and students earn a credit that will also count for high school requirements. After completing their associate’s degree, these students also receive a high school diploma. They can then transfer to hundreds of different universities to start the third year of their bachelor’s degree. In some cases, a 16-year-old student with high English and math skills can enter a community college and earn an associate's degree and high school diploma after he or she is 17 or 18 years old. And, if these students transfer, they will have a bachelor's degree by the time they are 19 - 20 years old!
Not all community colleges offer the program and the colleges that offer it do not have different admissions standards, policies and guidelines. To begin associate degree classes as a high school graduate student, the applicant must demonstrate college-level English and math skills. If they do not have these skills, most colleges will offer English as a second language teaching and advanced math course (usually these "pre-college" courses do not earn college credit). Most colleges admit students who are at least 16 years old and have completed a full year of tenth grade with a higher grade point average (GPA).
It is also important to note that there will be a wide range of transfer credits between colleges and universities that they will accept. It is important to contact your first-choice school admissions department to be sure about the policy.
High School Completion Plus is extremely popular around the world, but most students come from Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong.
The state of Washington has a number of specific requirements that these students must complete with their associate's degree in order to earn a diploma. These requirements include taking an ACT (examination), specific history courses that include college degrees and some projects) all of which can easily be completed within a two-year associate degree period.
The program is well-known for its slogan: "Save time, save money." It represents both the two years of high school that students do not have to finish before entering higher education as well as significant financial savings of high school and college education in choosing to join the program.