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May 13, 2018

College Now saves time and money; start your college journey in high school

This May, 18-year-old Grace Palcic will wear a cap and gown from two different schools. On May 18, she receives her Associate of Arts from JCCC, and two days later – on May 20 – she walks across the stage to receive her high school diploma from Olathe North.

A smart education

Four years ago, Grace’s dad – Mathematics Professor Ron Palcic – told his daughter that she’d need to go to JCCC before heading off to a four-year school; that they’d only pay for two years of college. As the child of a JCCC faculty member, Grace would receive discounted tuition, so it only made sense to Ron that she should take her general education classes at the College before attending a more expensive university.

Like so many things she has tackled in her life, Grace embraced that as a challenge. Through College Now, a partnership that provides high school students with the opportunity to earn college credits while completing their high school requirements, she began taking all of the college-level classes she could.

She also took JCCC courses on campus in the evenings and online, and even participated in one winter session. By the end of her senior year in high school, she will have 64 college credit hours – enough for an associate degree.

And that was on top of competitive gymnastics. And debate and forensics. And competing in the Miss America pageant system. Grace was named Miss Johnson County’s Outstanding Teen in 2017 and is competing as Miss Cottonwood for Miss Kansas this summer.

“I studied every spare moment I had,” Grace said. She also became much more efficient at managing her time. “Since my dad is a college professor, he helped me learn how to take notes since it’s so different than in high school. Now, I’ll have the advantage over my peers just entering their freshman year of college since I already know how to study and take notes.”

Ron Palcic said that saving money wasn’t the only advantage to his daughter getting her associate degree at JCCC. “At most four-year universities, the general education courses are in large lecture halls with lots of students. We have much smaller, personalized classes at JCCC.”

What’s next?

Grace has been accepted to Kansas State University and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Although she’d love to go to school by the ocean, cost may be the deciding factor. Based on her ACT score, K-State has offered her a Putnam Scholarship, which covers tuition, but she’d have to pay out-of-state tuition at UC Santa Barbara. She plans to major in chemistry or physics, and is thinking about a career in medicine or law.

“I loved the variety of people I met and the experiences I had at JCCC,” said Grace. “It’s a very different environment than high school; people choose to be there because they want to learn.”

If Grace’s double degree sounds intriguing, she recommends starting where you can. “Take advantage of what’s available to you and what will prepare you for college. A friend started College Now a little later than me, but she will still enter college with 30 hours of credit. Every little bit helps.”

You can do it, too

You don’t have to have a parent who is a college professor to learn effective study skills. The Academic Achievement Center (AAC) is a free, year-round resource located in OCB 304 where you can get help with class material or study skills, or improve your ability and readiness to learn.

Because of the College Now program, high school students have the opportunity to get college credit while still in high school. Be sure to check out how the program works for your high school, since only specific classes and instructors qualify for College Now credit.