Diplomas before degrees, some students can receive a college degree before graduating high school:

By Donovan Ortiz:

With the help of the Amarillo College Diplomas and Degrees program, many high school students are getting the experience of receiving an associate degree before they even get their diplomas.

Three high schools are currently participating in the program, which began in 2009. Canyon schools are getting ready to start in the fall of 2018 and the program plans to add four more schools soon.

Students in the program take all the dual credit classes offered in their schools plus concurrent classes needed to receive the same credentials as a college student receiving their associates degree by the time they graduate high school.

“Everything they do is all college-level course work,” said Jason Norman, director of P-16 career pathways advisement.

Norman said the student has to want it. The program has certain regulations that the participants must meet.

The Diplomas and Degrees program has provided a unique opportunity for students to get a head start on completing their educations.

Some students at Amarillo College said they wish this program had been available for them.

“It would’ve been a whole lot easier on my part if they would’ve had that program when I was in school,” said Israel Nunez, a business administration major. “I wouldn’t have to have been coming to AC. I could’ve been at a university already. Time is a necessity for college students.”

Other students said they would not have attempted this program even if it were available for them.

Vanessa Vital, a nuclear medicine major, said participating in this program might have detracted from the high school experience.

“I would’ve missed out on all the extracurricular activities in high school and at that age it shouldn’t be all books.”

Sixty credit hours are needed to earn an associate at AC, so the four-year commitment that the high school students must achieve in order get a degree is a challenge.

“This is for a student who has to be very dedicated, has to be very organized and has to be self-driven and motivated to be a college student and want to do more and go that extra step,” Norman said.

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