CAMDEN, N.J. – When Camden Academy Charter High School (CACHS) students cross the stage at graduation this year, many will not only have a diploma in their hands, but also a number of college credits in their back pockets.
Over 50 students in this year’s CACHS graduating class have participated in a program where they have been able to take a number of courses at Camden County College in the afternoon instead of traditional high school classes.
Taking a college course while still in high school can help students hone their career choices according to senior Jose Rodriguez who has already completed English Composition I and Basic Psychology and is now just finishing English Composition II. “It can help you discover if those classes you take might be something you want to be part of in college as a career,” Rodriguez said.
Senior Ruby Saldana, who has taken English Composition I, World Civilizations, and is also finishing English Composition II this spring, says taking college courses while still in high school has its benefits. “I enjoyed being able to develop relationships with the professors and being able to ask questions during class rather than going to office hours like you normally have to do for college,” Saldana said.
But the benefits are not just in the classroom. “Taking college courses in high school will help you save thousands of dollars by taking those courses for free in high school,” Saldana added.
Camden County College president Donald A. Borden concurs. “The fiscal benefits coupled with the increased opportunity for success at the college level make this program critically important for every student,” Borden said.
Current college students acknowledge the advantages of taking college courses while still in high school. Current Rutgers University-Camden freshman and CACHS Class of 2018 alumni Altagracia Fernandez explains how taking college courses before graduating high school put her ahead of other freshmen students. “I took Intro to Business, English Comp I and II, and Western Civilization in high school. Taking these classes helped me focus on my major classes when I got into college, and I was able to get a semester head of the other freshmen,” Fernandez said.
Stockton University freshman and CACHS Class of 2018 alumni Brian Alvarez says taking courses in high school not only helped give him a head start over other freshmen, it also gave him a better understanding of what to expect in college. “I really have learned to appreciate the credits earned from those courses because I came to Stockton needing 12 less credits than the typical freshman. Having experience with college professors have prepared me for the difference in teaching styles,” he said.
Alvarez, who took four college courses while at CACHS, said that while he may not have realized the value of the courses when he was a senior, he sure realizes it now. “The college classes I took in high school, even though I didn’t appreciate it as much at the time, have paid off, and I’m happy I was able to take them,” he said.
Camden Academy Charter High School is part of Camden’s Charter School Network.