FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) – These Wayne High School students haven’t reached graduation day just yet, but they’ve already got plenty of college credits under their belt.
Aidan Meek and his classmates are a part of Ivy Tech’s Early College Program.
“Early College kids, we’re able to earn college credits ery day, every semester through four years, where some of the other kids – traditional – can only get it maybe junior, senior year,” Meek said.
With the potential to earn up to 56 credits at Wayne, and more during the summer, some students like Gabriel Vargas already have their sights set high.
“I’m looking into Business Economics at the moment, so I’ll be able to get a jump start on that. Currently, if all works out, I might be able to graduate in four years with a Masters in Econ, so great opportunity,” Vargas said.
Ivy Tech’s Early College Program offers both dual credit general education courses and a handful of business classes, but students say the key to them is the connections they’re able to make inside the classroom.
“This program puts the idea first of what college can do for them, and then over four years, they study, learn, interact, struggle, but then find success to understand that they could go off to college if that’s their choice,” said Wayne principal John Houser.
Houser says he can think of at least two of his past students who have gone on to become Division I athletes thanks to opportunities created by this program.
He says the Early College Program encourages students to use their voice to better market themselves and their ideas.
This is something future Purdue ROTC and Business student Bart Akard says has stuck with him.
“I’ve become a much better leader through this program, through challenges being put in positions I normally would not put myself in. They’ve challenged me, and it has helped me become who I am today,” Akard said.
Akard says he was hooked on the program when he first learned he could apply in middle school.
His teacher says some kids come into class a bit nervous, but by their senior year, she sees them blossom into a family.
Wayne’s eight-year-old Early College Program features roughly 20-30 students in each grade.
Ivy Tech works with about 600 Early College students throughout the city.
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