July 29, 2014
As the Class of 2014 celebrated their graduation from high school, 10 students from Ninety Six High School and McCormick High School were also earning an Associate in Arts degree from Piedmont Technical College. The students – five from Ninety Six and five from McCormick – were enrolled in the Piedmont Middle College.
The Middle College is a set curriculum designed by Piedmont Technical College and the school district tailored for the high school students and their specific needs. The students begin classes in their junior year and earn not only high school credit, but college credits toward their degree. If they follow the curriculum, they earn at least 48 credit hours toward an associate degree.
“The Piedmont Middle College provides a great opportunity for these high school students to get a head start on their college career,” said Amanda Richardson, dual enrollment director at Piedmont Tech. “It allows them to experience the rigors of college while still in high school and saves them time and money in their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.”
The 10 students who have completed the program and earned their associate degrees agree.
“This was a great opportunity and I’m glad I took advantage because it puts you so far ahead once you start to attend college,” said Tiffany Smith, a graduate from McCormick High School.
To earn the associate degree, the students had to take courses over the summer between their junior and senior year. The students who completed the courses said it was an easy choice for them to make.
“By taking the classes over the summer to complete the degree, it will put me ahead of the game when I get to college,” said Danielle Balentine, a graduate from Ninety Six High School. “I can go straight into my major instead of taking all of the introductory classes.”
The students say that the Middle College experience has been beneficial to their education, but they warn interested students to be prepared.
“I would definitely recommend the program, but only if they are serious,” said Dallas Giles, a graduate of Ninety Six High School. “There’s a lot of work involved, but it’s more independent. The teacher isn’t going to keep reminding you to do it.”
The instructors in the program encourage any student interested to explore the option of taking Middle College classes.
“For some of these students, this is their chance to get a degree that they otherwise couldn’t afford to pursue,” said Tory Miller, economics instructor at Piedmont Tech. “If they can walk out their senior year with an associate degree and their high school diploma, they’ve got 10 steps up on everyone else across the country that just has the high school diploma.”
All interested students should talk to their guidance counselors for more detailed information and application procedures or contact the Dual Enrollment office at (864) 941-8352.