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Free community college courses available to high school students

High school students who want to earn free college credit can enroll in classes at North Carolina’s community colleges in the spring.

Last year, about 59,000 high school students across the state were part of Career & College Promise (CCP), a dual enrollment program that helped them save time and money toward a degree or certificate.

“It’s a great idea because you can take classes in high school that will transfer to your college,” said Naomi Dennie, who is attending Lenoir Community College. “Also, the classes are free and will help you reach your career goals.”

Students can take advantage of a wide variety of classes as part of the program. Last academic year, high school students enrolled in nearly 1,500 unique courses across the state while accumulating free credits.

“CCP helped me get an idea of what college was actually going to be like,” said Dominic Stigler, who attended Craven Community College. “Even though I had been on college tours, being in a college classroom setting is different….It also helped me prepare for the workload.”

College transfer courses are weighted the same as Advanced Placement (AP) for grade point averages on high school transcripts. Some students earn enough for an associate degree or career credential by the time they graduate from high school.

That’s the case for Sabrina Price, who has taken classes at Surry Community College. When she finishes her senior year in high school, she will have received a certificate in criminal justice technology.

“I wanted to have a brighter and better future,” Price said, “and get a head start on the career field of my choice.”

Students can contact their school counselors or local community college to enroll in Career & College Promise. Many community college classes are being conducted online to maintain a safe environment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gilleyn Bunting, who attended Mount Airy High School and Surry Community College, made significant progress toward a four-year degree.

“I am now a current junior at UNC-Chapel Hill because I completed two years’ worth of credit through CCP,” Bunting said. “I will be graduating early and felt prepared coming into college.”