Discover College-Early College Program Grows to 136

OWENSBORO, KY (09/20/2018) Owensboro Community and Technical College's (OCTC) Discover College - Early College program is a collaborative partnership with area high schools and OCTC. While OCTC's Discover College is the umbrella that covers all the offerings for students still in high school, Early College allows select students to enroll full-time during their junior and senior years of high school at OCTC. At the conclusion of their senior year students receive their HS diploma and an Associate Degree. Early College enrolled its first four students in 2014-15. This grew to 51 in 2016-17, 96 in 2017-18, and now stands at 136 this school year. Students are from Apollo, Daviess County, Hancock County, McLean County, Ohio County, and Owensboro high schools.

The interest and growth in the program brought the partners together in 2016 to create a position, supported jointly, that would serve as an advisor, college guide, and mentor for Early College students. Nikki Wimpelberg has served in that role since December of 2017. Wimpelberg added, "Enrollment for the new class this year has doubled in size from last year. The word is getting out that OCTC's Early College is a great opportunity."

"The partnership with the high schools evolved to ensure the students are successful. Without the support from the high schools this program would not be possible. They are as much a part of the success as OCTC" commented Scott Williams, OCTC President. "It is a definite win-win for the students. They get begin Early College at OCTC full time in their junior year. When theytransfer to a state university with an Associate in Arts or Associate in Science degree they will save on average about $30,000" added Williams.

Students may still participate in extracurricular activities at their high school. "Early College students enrich our campus culture. These students have the best of both worlds-high school and college. They are excelling in both worlds and are active in extracurricular activities at their high school and on campus." The current student government president Kaylee Meador, and vice president, Brooklyn Knight, are from Daviess County HS and Apollo HS, respectively. "Both are National Merit Semifinalists" shared Dr. Stacy Edds-Ellis, Interim Dean of Academic Affairs.

The tuition for Early College is covered through state-mandated waivers, scholarships, self-pay, or experimental Pell grants. OCTC is one of 42 colleges selected to participate in this three-year experimental program by United States Department of Education. Students are responsible for transportation and supplies.

Dr. Stacy Edds-Ellis, Dean of Academic Affairs said, "Prior to the Pell experiment, and this collaborative partnership, we had only a handful of these students at a time. There was a private donor who sponsored tuition for some students, we have some school districts that pick up the tuition cost, and some parents pay the tuition and fees. Last year OCTC awarded over $194,135 of grant funding to Early College students through the Pell experiment".

In May 2017, ten students graduated from OCTC with an associate degree and a high school diploma. In May 2018, 30 students graduated. Of the 30 students who graduated, 21 earned academic honors by maintaining at least a 3.4 grade point average. OCTC anticipates 45 Early College students will graduate in May of 2019.

For more information about the opportunities available through Discover College contact Dr. Stacy Edds-Ellis, Stacy.Edds@kctcs.edu or by phone 270.686.4573. For information at the Early College program contact, Nikki Wimpelberg, Nikki.Wimpelberg@kctcs.edu, or by phone 270.686.4596.