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Central Cambria partners with colleges

Students will get chance to earn associate’s degree while in high school

EBENSBURG — Central Cambria students will soon have the chance to graduate from high school with not only a diploma, but an associate’s degree as well.

Through a partnership with Mount Aloysius College and Penn Highlands Community College, students at the Central Cambria High School will be able to complete the Associate in High School program, which provides students the opportunity to obtain up to 60 college credits prior to high school graduation.

“We have done a lot of work to expand our students’ opportunities to earn college credits,” Central Cambria High School Principal Chris Santini said. “We’ve invested a lot into our curriculum and already have an extensive dual-enrollment program, but this Associate in High School program takes it to the next level.”

Under this new program, set to begin in the 2021-22 school year, eligible students can potentially acquire the 60 credits required for an associate’s degree while still in high school.

To obtain a degree, students will complete nearly half of their courses at Central Cambria through dual-enrollment courses that appear on their high school and college transcripts.

The remaining credits would be completed through online or in-person classes at the two local institutions.

Students that successfully complete their classes will receive a degree in liberal arts with a focus on humanities and social science.

“This is going to provide some of our students with a leg-up on other college students,” Central Cambria Superintendent Dr. Jason Moore said. “They could be leaving Central Cambria with two years of college and potentially a degree under their belt, and it’s going to come at a much-lower cost.”

Santini said the program could be a lucrative attraction for students due to the flexibility of the two colleges involved.

Mount Aloysius and Penn Highlands are two of the most common schools Central Cambria graduates choose, Santini said, and both institutions offer the ability for credits to be transferred to other four-year schools.

All courses are available at a “largely-reduced rate,” which Santini said will open opportunities for students that may not have been possible before.

“The rising cost of a college degree is certainly an issue,” Santini said. “Those are challenges that our kids face today, and it could be a barrier for some to earn a college degree. This new program would result in significant cost savings for students.”

Providing additional college opportunities has been at the forefront of Central Cambria’s curriculum plan.

The high school now offers 21 advanced placement classes, and students have the ability to enroll in individual dual-enrollment courses without having to commit to the Associate in High School program.

“It’s really a win-win for our students,” Moore said. “This provides our students even more opportunities and choices for what they want to do with their life after high school.”

Santini said that Mount Aloysius and Penn Highlands are the only dual-enrollment programs the school has partnered with, but the opportunity to work with other local colleges or universities could always be a possibility.

“We would be open to it,” Santini said. “Our focus is really providing as many opportunities to our students as possible. If another door opens, we would definitely look into it.”

Mirror Staff Writer Calem Illig is at 814-946-7535.

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