Eighth graders get peek at college life

Kile Brewer
Posted 5/30/18

ORANGE PARK – As students transition from middle school into high school, they also need to start thinking about enrolling in college.

Students can begin taking dual enrollment courses, which …

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Eighth graders get peek at college life

Posted

ORANGE PARK – As students transition from middle school into high school, they also need to start thinking about enrolling in college.

Students can begin taking dual enrollment courses, which are offered through state colleges in Florida, in their freshman year of high school. Each year, hundreds of Clay County students graduate from high school with enough college credits to earn an Associate’s degree alongside their high school diploma. St. Johns River State College’s “OP Rallies Program” works to expose kids to these options before they’re even out of the eighth grade.

“A lot of kids are already starting to think about college at this point,” said Mikki Johns, the college’s recruitment specialist. “Many of those kids are interested in dual enrollment so that they can get started in college while they’re in high school.”

Tuesday morning, 218 students from Wilkinson Junior High School in Middleburg arrived on busses at the SJRSC campus where they were separated into about six groups and toured throughout the campus. Students were shown through the buildings and taken to the administrative offices, dual enrollment offices, workforce education classrooms, criminal justice classrooms, the college’s Florida Arts program, as well as programs that assist with academic success and provide extracurricular activities around campus.

“I want the students to see that classroom learning can continue [after high school],” said Wilkinson Science teacher Bill Kotziers. “There’s a path to a better future beyond high school.”

Kotziers stood in a group of students alongside Wilkinson Coach Anthony Wallace as the two prepared to take the students around campus with their assigned tour guide from the St. Johns River faculty.

“The kids need to know that they already have options,” Wallace said. “A lot of students say they’re undecided, but the faster they decide, the faster they can start taking advantages of programs like dual enrollment.”

The tours focused on exposing the students to the idea of college, instead of serving as a big recruiting session aimed at getting them all to attend SJR State. Nobody was being pushy or telling kids that they have to attend college to be successful. Instead, the event focused on providing them with all of the options they will be presented with when they enroll in their first year of high school, as well as the potential for more education beyond their senior year.

“These days kids need to know their options going into high school,” said Brooke Elasik, SJR State recruitment and orientation coordinator. “[OP Rallies] are important because they can start earning college credit as soon as they get to high school. They just have to qualify for dual enrollment and maintain a certain GPA to get their feet wet in college courses next year.”

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