Off to a good start

Published 10:10 pm Friday, May 2, 2014

Now that the calendar has turned to May, high school seniors around Suffolk have begun counting down the days until they will walk across a stage, shake a school administrator’s hand and receive their diplomas.

But for four Suffolk students, their high-school sheepskins will not be the only ones they receive in the next few weeks. For four Suffolk students, this graduation season means they’ll be receiving associate degrees from college, along with their high school diplomas. Each of the four has earned enough credits through the dual enrollment system between Paul D. Camp Community College and Suffolk Public Schools to effectively get a two-year jump on their classmates back in high school.

Dual enrollment allows high-school students to pursue some community college courses before they have completed their secondary educations. By completing many of the general classes that are required for the first two years in most post-secondary programs, participating students leave the program ready to start the higher-level courses common to third- and fourth-year university programs.

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The main difference between these four students and the third- and fourth-year students they will be sharing classes with when they arrive at their chosen colleges in the fall is that they’ll be two years younger and facing far lower total educational costs for their college careers than if they’d gone the conventional route of attending high school as regular students and then heading off to four years of college.

To be sure, choosing to participate in the dual enrollment program requires some big sacrifices, major commitments and significant discipline, but the payoff is huge, as the four Suffolk students can now attest.

Congratulations to Joshua Graham and De’Ja Lankford of King’s Fork High School and to Malaika Karriem and Ashley Wood of Nansemond River High School for having the discipline and the desire to make the sacrifices and the commitment necessary to achieve such a big goal. These are the kind of people who go out and change the world. We can hardly wait to see what they’ll do next.