Twelve-year-old Enjoys the Challenge of Coursework at Kent State's Regional Academic Center in Twinsburg
In Ohio, most seventh graders are learning earth and space science, physical science and life science in a middle school classroom. While peers are learning about Earth’s oceanic currents and the periodic table, Jameson Payne attends Kent State University’s Regional Academic Center in Twinsburg, taking Molecules of Life, Seven Ideas That Shook the Universe and General Chemistry I.
At age 12, Payne is earning college credits through the College Credit Plus program. He is one of 1,977 students across the Kent State system earning college credits while simultaneously attending a secondary school.
During his sixth grade education, an informational flier about the program sent to Payne’s house caught the attention of his mother. In the 2015-2016 academic year, Ohio legislation opened the program to students as young as seventh grade.
“My mom discovered the program for me and thought it was something I could do really well in," Payne says. "I wasn’t always doing the best in my classes in fifth and sixth grade, but it wasn’t because I didn’t understand them. It was mostly because I was bored. I already knew what we were learning.”
The program, offered at all public schools and colleges in Ohio, allows students in grades 7-12 to earn college credits through an institution of their choice while still attending their primary education.
“The courses students take at a college level also count as high school coursework. Every course taken at the college level that is 3 credit hours or more also counts as one high school unit,” says Johanna Pionke, director of the office of alternative credit and articulation agreements in Kent State's University College. “So, if you take College Writing I in the fall semester for 3 credit hours, it will also count as one year of high school English.”
Per Ohio legislation, all interested students must attend an informational session with their school district before applying for the program. After attending an information session, students are required to submit a letter of intent and meet all admission requirements to the university of their choice, including submitting an ACT or SAT score with their application.
“Students cannot bypass their high school graduation requirements," Pionki says. "They also have to participate in mandatory testing and are still required to take an ACT or SAT. Per the state, there are four classes students have to take to pass high school requirements, regardless of the College Credit Plus program: English 1 and English 2, geometry and algebra.”
Payne has stuck with classes in Kent State’s science department, taking advanced subject classes that aren’t offered in his middle school. This semester, he also is taking a history course, Modern America: From Industrialization to Globalization.
“These classes have totally stimulated him," says Bethany Payne, Jameson’s mother. "College Credit Plus is exactly what he needed. He’s excited to go, he’s constantly learning and he’s being challenged.”
For Jameson Payne, attending classes through Kent State twice a week has been more of an excitement than an adjustment.
“I love going to Kent State because no one really treats me any differently," he says. "I think sometimes in my classes people get confused at first, but once class starts and people realize I am a student in the class, I get treated just like everyone else, and I really love that."
Jameson’s family has noticed nothing but positives through his participation in College Credit Plus, too.
“For us, him attending Kent State was honestly a convenience," Bethany Payne says. "The Regional Academic Center is within two miles of his middle school. At the regional, he has small class sizes, which is appealing, and I know he gets personalized attention.”
Through College Credit Plus, students are eligible to take a maximum of 30 credit hours per year, having a maximum eligibility of 120 credit hours, regardless of what age they begin College Credit Plus. Jameson Payne has taken 6 credit hours through the program thus far and is taking another 7 credit hours this semester. He plans to continue taking college classes for credit through the College Credit Plus program.