by McKenna Burchett, associate editor

OCTOBER 2021 – College Credit Plus (CCP) is a program that allows students to earn college credits during high school. It was created in 2014 when Ohio combined dual enrollment and postsecondary plans, where students could earn college and/or high school credits in additional classes. Bio-Med Science Academy began offering dual enrollment and postsecondary plans during its first year of operation in 2012, then switched to CCP when it was created.

CCP is available to students in grades seven through 12. The first step to applying for CCP is to attend an informational meeting the prior year hosted by Ms. Stephanie Hammond, the guidance counselor for grades 10 through 12.

“I usually have [the meeting] anywhere between October and December,” she said. “That meeting contains all of the things students and families need to know about CCP before they sign up.”

The date for this meeting for the 2022-2023 school year has yet to be determined. Information for the event should be posted in the parent newsletter, emailed to students, and on Otus.

CCP runs on a different schedule than the average school year. A year for CCP goes through summer, fall, and spring.

“For example, this year would be summer 2021 through spring 2022,” Hammond explained.

Some College Credit Plus courses require textbooks, which are provided to students free of charge and can be picked up at the Counselor’s Corner. An email is sent to students informing them of any textbooks needed for a course. Students are responsible for returning these books at the end of the semester.

The next step is for students and parents to sign an “intent to participate” form that documents attendance at the meeting and which schools they would potentially attend.

Then, students must apply to a college through the institution.

“I sit down with students all the time. We walk through the application, we go to the different sites that we need, and look at what the next steps are. Some students are like ‘oh, I can fill this out on my own.’ Others we walk through it. It’s all totally fine,” Hammond commented.

Specifics regarding what courses a student should take can be worked out between the student and Hammond. To take summer courses, a student must directly reach out to the admission department of the college. Each course has prerequisites that must be completed before taking them.

She continued, saying, “Once they apply to the college, it depends on what courses they’re taking and how. So then they might go through the college for that, or through Bio-Med.”

CCP allows students to take 30 credits annually before they must pay on their own. Each high school credit translates to three of these credits. Students must check with their institution to see how many credits each college class is worth. CCP also counts towards a student’s total financial aid.

“If a student takes courses in high school and in college, they still have to do eight semesters; they aren’t going to get financial aid for eight semesters. They’re only going to get it for maybe seven,” Hammond said. “You get 180 credits worth of financial aid as a student. That was what they said at my last meeting though, [so] it could have changed.”

Bio-Med Science Academy has different degrees a student can earn. Some of the credits required are not offered at Bio-Med and must be taken with CCP. These courses include a history credit, foreign language credits (three in one language or two in two languages,) and possibly an additional science and math credit.

Hammond discussed the benefits of taking CCP. “The first benefit is that obviously, it’s free college…. If a student does CCP purposefully, they are taking time off what they’re doing in college because CCP impacts your financial aid in college,” she said. “So students could possibly graduate earlier and have less debt, as well as being exposed to that college environment in a more structured [high school] environment.”

Hammond also listed possible drawbacks. “You’re starting your college transcript. If we do really well in those classes, [then that is] wonderful, but if we don’t do well, those classes don’t go away.”

She recalled her own experience in college. “When I was a freshman, I had Cs because I wasn’t prepared, and I never dug out of that hole and ended up where I wanted to be. A single C, a single D, [or] a single F, will drop a student’s GPA and it doesn’t go away.”

Hammond continued, saying, “Another drawback is what happens when you aren’t purposeful with it. I’ve had students take a semester’s worth of work, but none of it applied to what they wanted to do, so they were out a semester’s worth of financial aid for college.”

Tessa Wood, a junior at Bio-Med, shared her experience with CCP. Wood began taking CCP courses the summer between her freshman and sophomore year.

“It worked really well because I didn’t have a lot going on that summer, but it became more difficult to complete once I started attending camps and being away from my computer over the summer,” she said.

Wood said the difficulty of each course depended on the professor and the content of the course.

“I took both Spanish I and II and thought they were pretty easy to complete since the assignments were consistent. When I took a class on web development, I struggled more. The professor worked with me and was amazing, but the shift in subjects left me unprepared.”

Bio-Med has a grading system that encourages students to go above and beyond. This made transitioning to a more traditional grading style difficult for Wood.

“At first I went above and beyond in my CCP classes, like writing an extra paragraph or responding to three students instead of two,” she said. “However, I realized that it was not at all necessary and began to do what the assignment outlined instead of what I thought was going above and beyond.” Wood still received an A in this class.

Sarah Bungard, another junior, disagreed, and commented that “Bio-Med’s learning style has made CCP classes seem easier because I’m used to doing extra work to get an exceeds mastery, which translates to an A. In a college class, simply meeting the requirements usually gets you a 100 percent.”

However, she had difficulties with the learning style.“It is a big adjustment from Bio-Med’s PBL to entirely lecture based-learning,” she said.

Hammond commented on the difficulties students experience in CCP.

“CCP is an added workload to what students are doing at Bio-Med. Some seventh-graders can handle the rigor, [and] some cannot. That is true for every grade level. Some students need to take college courses in college,” she said. “A lot of students build on the number of classes they take as they go through high school. It’s common for students to wait until sophomore year, then junior year add a course or two, and then [in] senior year, really jump into it due to their schedule.”

CCP is not for everyone, and any students considering taking CCP classes should reach out to Hammond. Those who are struggling with their current CCP courses should reach out to their professors or to Hammond for guidance.

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