Extra GTCC Hours Paying Dividends For High School Senior

Published on: January 12, 2021

Sarah Oakley figures working a little overtime in the classroom now is going to save her a lot of time down the road.

The 17-year-old Oakley is a senior at Southwest Guilford High School and will graduate in the spring. But she is also on schedule to graduate from Guilford Technical Community College this year. She enrolled in the college’s Career and College Promise program in 2019 and since has simultaneously taken both high school and college classes.

“The main thing I would say about the program for people who may be interested is that it’s so worth it. You have the chance to get two years of college out of the way while you’re in high school,” said Oakley.

“At first, I was interested in the program because I just wanted to get some extra credits for school, but after I started to take a few classes (at GTCC) I found out that I could potentially earn my associate degree which made me become even more interested in the program.”

The Career and College Promise program offers students two pathways: the Career Technical Education Pathway and the College Transfer Pathway. Oakley is enrolled in the latter.

“I definitely think the College Transfer Pathway will make me more prepared when I start my studies at a four-year college because these are college courses I’m taking, and they are all formatted similarly (to four-year college classes).”

Oakley began the Career and College Promise program later in high school than most, and even though it increased her course load to remain on track for a spring 2021 graduation, she was undaunted.

“The biggest challenge that I’ve experienced with the GTCC program is that I started the program later which meant if I wanted to finish my senior year with an associate degree, I would have a really heavy course schedule and workload,” said Oakley, who enjoys time outdoors, especially fishing at the beach.  “So, I wish I would’ve heard about the program sooner and could’ve started the program earlier so my classes could’ve been more spread out. Overall, though, even with having to take more classes it’s gone really well.”

Oakley has taken a full class load during her GTCC career, including six classes this semester.

“When I first started taking classes at GTCC I did still have most of my classes at my high school, but personally I didn’t find it hard to do both and the workload was about the same. It really just depended on the classes and how hard they were,” said Oakley. “It was a little different to adjust to the college classes because most everything assignment-based was online, but once I adjusted, I liked that format better.”

With only a semester left in both high school and at GTCC, Oakley is feeling confident about the next step.

“My favorite part about taking classes at GTCC is that I’ve felt very accomplished after every course I’ve taken because I know it’s helping me for my future and for college.”

Oakley plans to attend N.C. State University in the fall of 2021 and major in elementary education.

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