Lacey High Students Can Graduate With Associate’s Degree

Photo courtesy of the Lacey School District.

LACEY – The class of 2019 will be the first to have the opportunity to take enough college credits during high school to graduate with an Associate’s degree in liberal arts from Ocean County College, officials said.

Providing access to college credits is not a new program here or in other area districts. Many high schools provide the opportunity to have college credits. Lacey will be the first in the area to offer an Associate’s degree, though.

The OCC Academy was a special track in Lacey Township High School that started in the 2013-2014 school year, assistant Superintendent Vanessa Clark said. Students were able to accumulate as many as 18 college credits, thereby greatly reducing their cost and workload in secondary education.

This program will expand to as many as 64 credits, high school principal Gregory Brandis said. This would be split between 30 credits during their junior year and 34 credits during their senior year. Because OCC graduation is usually in May, the students could technically graduate OCC before they graduate high school.

“No other school in Ocean County is going to be able to offer this to their students,” he said.

The classes will be taught by Lacey teachers, he said. They have been dual certified, approved to be adjuncts at OCC.

The tuition is at a “jump start” rate of $92.50 per credit. This amounts to $5,920 for all 64 credits versus $8,580 to attend OCC normally.

There would also be options for online or summer classes, he said.

Students have reported to officials that they were able to have more flexibility with their time during their years at college, since they already had credits under their belt.

Henry Jackson, executive director of academic success at OCC, said that after Lacey came on board, several other local school districts reached out to him to see if they could do this as well.

“We want this to be a model program for other districts,” he said.

Classes include staples of both high schools and colleges, such as western civilization, English, and statistics, he said. Junior year classes have no requisites to take before enrolling.

In creating the curriculum, the classes had to be held to both the standards of the college and to the state for high school, he said.

The credits would be transferable to most other colleges, Jackson said. In fact, if the student gets an A.A., they would apply to other colleges as a transfer student, not as a new student.

This is an important distinction, since it is easier to get accepted to a four-year college as a transfer student rather than as a freshman, Board of Education President David Bidwell said.

In response to a question from the audience, officials said the Lacey teachers will not be paid more for this. The district would not be making money off the deal.