In the Hopewell High School (HHS) library, a group of students are talking about their experience in the Tyler Early College Academy. Through the program, students at Hopewell and Petersburg High Schools have a chance to get ready for college and even graduate with an associate degree from John Tyler Community College (JTCC).
Tyler Early College Academy and Hopewell High School students share their experiences in the school library. From left to right: Mariah Culpepper, Sarrah Taylor, Eiizjarae Dillon, and Judd Blake.
“I want to go into the medical field, and getting a head start on college will help me be able to get my degree a lot quicker.” said Sarrah Taylor, a junior at HHS.
Students in the Tyler Early College Academy must apply to the program. Once they are in, they have access to cost-free college classes, and their odds for success increase. In fact, early college students outperform their peers across the country. Their graduation rate is 12% higher, and 30% are able to earn an associate degree in combination with their high school diploma.*
“I did the program because I thought it would be a good opportunity. I figured it would help out if I already had my associate degree so we wouldn’t have to pay for it later.” said Elizjarae Dillon, a junior at HHS.
Tyler Early College Academy and Hopewell High School students with Dr. Peggy Westcott, Coordinator of the Early College Academy program in Hopewell.
The Tyler Early College Academy boosts graduation rates, college acceptance, college readiness, and career skills. It’s an excellent support to Hopewell and Petersburg schools which posted 84.2% and 80.4% graduation rates respectively.** While these numbers are lower than Virginia’s average of 90%, they are a vast improvement. Just 8 years ago in 2009, Hopewell’s graduation rate was 60.5% and Petersburg’s 61.4%.***
The work is more challenging than regular high school classes, but these students felt it gave them a better chance for success in college and their careers.
“New students need a good work ethic. They need to know this course will be more challenging and be ready for it. They can’t have an attitude that says ‘I’m not gonna do anything’ because that’s not how it works.” said Judd Blake, a junior at HHS.
The students also felt it gave them a leg up from their peers. They are more confident and better able to handle their own responsibilities.
Sarrah reflected on her experience, “We’re getting treated like college students. I feel like this experience has helped me grow up, be responsible, and have better time management. I feel better about going to college when I graduate.”
This post was written by Jennifer Brown