High Schoolers Earn Associate Degree Before Graduation

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  MONMOUTH COUNTY – Over 90 high schools students earned a college degree before graduating high school thanks to a special program offered by Brookdale Community College.

  High schoolers who took part in Brookdale Community College’s Early College High School (ECHS) program expanded their traditional high school curriculum and added college-level courses in order to receive their associate degree.

  “We are honored and excited to congratulate 91 high school students from nine schools throughout Monmouth County that graduated from College this year,” Brookdale President Dr. David Stout said. “These partnerships have saved students both time and money in their pursuit of a college degree while preparing them for the highest level of success after graduation.”

  “Brookdale’s ECHS Program not only serves as an invaluable conduit through which students can achieve academic and personal success, it also tangibly fosters the notion that education and enlightenment are society’s most precious ‘goods,’” Cara Novak, associate director of Early College High School said.

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  “Students who graduated from the program are prepared for the continued rigors of college,” Margaret Kane, the Principal at Saint John Vianney (SJV) said. “We are confident that our graduates will succeed as they move on to the next stage of their education.”

  The ECHS program allows students to earn 60 college credits so they can obtain their associate degree that transfers easily to four-year colleges.

  “This is an affordable option for students to get their college degree and accelerate their path toward a bachelor’s,” Dr. Sarah McElroy, executive director of Career and Transfer Pathways at Brookdale said.

  During a student’s freshman and sophomore years, they will complete the first 30 college credits with Brookdale professors teaching the college courses at the high school. Afterwards, they’ll take courses at Brookdale’s regional locations in their junior year. They become full-time Brookdale students their senior year on the College’s Lincroft campus.

  Kelly Robb will be continuing her education at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) next year. “Taking college-level classes while in high school helped me become familiar with future expectations and responsibilities and, as a result, I feel more confident about continuing my education,” Robb said. “I always felt like my teachers at SJV and professors at Brookdale were there to help me succeed every step of the way.”

  Due to the pandemic, the class of 2021 had to take their college courses virtually midway junior year and all of senior year. The relationships they built their first two years helped them to get through to their college graduation.

  “The partnership with Brookdale Community College has been a huge part of our success here at Neptune High School,” Principal Kevin McCarthy said. “The friendships and teamwork of working together as a cohort for the past four years have created a system of strong supports between students and staff.  These relationships and support structures helped everyone cope with and succeed within the realm of a worldwide pandemic. They are now approaching high school graduation, having already completed their associate degree, putting them among the elite in our nation. The skills they learned through this rigorous program will serve them throughout their lifetime.”

  “We are so proud of the 32 students who graduated from BCC,” Raritan High School (RHS) Principal Andrew R. Piotrowski said. “It is rewarding for our students and administrators to see their dreams come true over the past four years.”

  Francesca Giordano feels fortunate to have been an Early College Academy student at RHS. She will be entering as a junior at Montclair State University this fall.

  “I have developed many special friendships with our close-knit group of classmates while studying both high school and college curriculums,” Giordano said. “I am so proud of all of us earning both a high school diploma from RHS along with an Associate of Arts degree from BCC.”

  All the ECHS graduates, from all the high schools were together for graduation at Brookdale.

  “I can honestly say that the (Brookdale) graduation was one of the most satisfying moments of my career,” Joe Palumbo, director of school counseling at Keyport High School said. “To see these 12 young men and women, all of whom I have worked with since their very first day in high school, graduate with their associate degree was unbelievable.”

  “The Early College Academy was an immense challenge, but definitely worth it. I kept up my confidence of getting through the program, and it all paid off in the end,” Connor North from MHSN, attending Boston University in the fall, said.

  “Tons of fun and so glad I did it, especially with such good friends. I really could not have asked for a more fun time out of what I initially thought was an unattainable task,” Michael Murphy attending the United States Naval Academy said.