More than half of high school seniors are taking college courses - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

More than half of high school seniors are taking college courses

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

More Iowa students are getting into higher education -- while they're still in high school. A new report out Thursday from the State Board of Education suggests one in four community college students is also a high school student.

According to the report, a record number of teens are enrolling in Iowa's community colleges -- 38,892 in 2011. More than half of all high school seniors are taking at least one college-level course.

The most common areas of study are English, social sciences, and mathematics, but a growing number are taking specialized courses.

Emma Husome is training to become a CNA with the goal of working in a nursing home while attending college. She'll complete the course in May, but she won't start work until November.

"I'm not 18 yet. And a lot of places don't want to hire CNAs until you're 18," she said.

That's right, Husome is only a high school junior. But by taking this course, she's one step closer to a career in nursing, and a few credits closer to her college degree.

"These are better informed students. They understand what they're going to do when they get out of high school. They understand what the market wants and they have the skills necessary," said David Ball, the Director of Admissions and Student Life at Hawkeye Community College.

Joint enrollment is growing trend at Hawkeye Community College -- thanks to a close partnership with about a dozen surrounding school districts.

"We've really seen some interest and excitement from our high school students and our partners in our high schools. In fact, enrollment last semester was up 10%," said Ball.

About 85 percent of jointly enrolled students are taking "contracted courses". Meaning the class is offered at the high school, or at an outreach center. That makes higher education more accessible and much more affordable.

"If it doesn't resonate with the students -- which we think it does, it resonates with the parents. We've really done a great job with our partner schools to inform the parents, this is like a scholarship," said Ball.

"My mom and dad are really proud of me. They think, if I can get credits now and I'm only 17, why not?" Husome added.

Ball also noted, high school-ers who jointly enroll are more likely to go directly to a four year university versus starting at the community college.

In May, at least one high school senior jointly enrolled at Hawkeye will receive his Associates degree before he receives his diploma.

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