Groton high school graduates six students this June with both a high school diploma and a college degree. These outstanding graduates have all earned an Associate Degree through the College Now Early Degree Program. What was established just two years ago as a partnership between the high school and Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3), the College Now program is designed to allow students to earn an Associate’s Degree in General Studies with credits transferable to most college programs.
Groton business teacher Babs Carr mentors each student in the program. She coordinates with Groton Counselor Kristen Brew and Maria Nissi from TC3 to evaluate what coursework will be needed to allow each participant to complete the program before graduation. To earn an Associate’s Degree, students must complete at least 60 credits of SUNY general education courses in at least seven areas. Carr encourages all her students to take concurrent enrollment courses and says, “It's just a great way to save parents money, get some college experience and get (the students) to think about college, when maybe they hadn’t before or couldn’t afford it”. College Now courses are offered tuition-free or at a reduced cost which makes the program attainable for most. Groton High School offers many of the courses on-site and provides required supplies such as textbooks. The additional college coursework required is offered online at a reduced cost, with the total out-of-pocket expense estimated at just under one thousand dollars.
The first graduating class of this program was celebrated at a dinner with their teachers and parents at the Benn Conger Inn last month. All of the graduates held part-time jobs as well as being involved in sports and clubs throughout the year. “They are very active students and they have been able to do this, and do this very well,” Mrs. Carr said. The associate’s degrees were awarded on May 27, 2016 during the TC3’s commencement ceremony. The six Groton seniors to receive an Associate Degree from the college that evening were: Jenna Federation, Tess Federation, Emily Hess, Emily Richards, Austin Vyskocil and Sam Yager.