Leighanne Marcum, a senior at Kenton Ridge High School, talks about the College Credit Plus program during a Clark State with Ohio Department of Higher Education chancellor John Carey. Marcum, who is enrolled in the CCP program, is graduating with her high school deploma as well as an associates degree from Clark State. Bill Lackey/Staff

College credit program saves Clark State students, families $7M

About $7 million of college credit has been earned by high school students though Clark State Community College and the College Credit Plus program since 2014, with many of those students being from Clark County.

The money saved by students and their families has made the College Credit Plus program a strong investment by Ohio, state Rep. Kyle Koehler said.

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“It’s saving families on college tuition and that is the biggest plus from this,” the Republican from Springfield said.

Ohio State Chancellor of High Education John Carey visited Springfield Wednesday afternoon and discussed the program with leaders from Clark State, Clark-Shawnee and Northeastern local schools, students and parents.

The program has been in Ohio schools for two years and offers students college credit if they complete the courses. The courses must be taught by a teacher with a master’s degree.

The program is different from Advance Placement courses that have been in Ohio schools for several years, as there’s not test at the end of the school year to see if the student will earn college credit for taking the course.

If students pass the class they get credit that must be accepted by every public college in Ohio. That can translate into thousands of dollars a year saved by students and families. It can also help a student start a career faster rather than spending four or five years in college.

“The general consensus is that it is a good program and we need to continue it,” Carey said.

The state must stay focused on cutting debt, he said, and promoting education. And one way to do so is improving the College Credit Plus program.

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“It’s all about putting the students first and that’s what schools in Clark County and Clark State have done,” Carey said.

At the meeting, teachers and administrators from local schools talked about some challenges they have faced while developing the credit programs in their schools. Clark-Shawnee offers the most courses of any school through Clark State and officials there said they have had to strategically buy used books online to keep costs down.

Making sure required books are actually needed, instead of forcing schools or students to buy non-essential books is important to the continued success of CCP, Clark-Shawnee staff said.

Students told the chancellor and Clark State officials that the opportunities College Credit Plus have opened up are life changing. Students said they want to pursue art, engineering and dentistry and those dreams are made possible because of the advantages offered through the credit program.

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Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin said the school is committed to growing the program in the coming years.

“My hope is we increase college-going rates and college attainment levels and then those individuals stay in Clark County and enter the work force,” Blondin said. “Our mission and the College Credit Plus mission fit so well together.”