HAMLET — Scotland High School senior Hannah Bethea will graduate high school this year only one semester shy of an associate degree thanks to the free college classes she took at Richmond Community College through its dual enrollment program.
Bethea said when she entered her junior year of high school she realized she needed to start taking her education more seriously, so she started taking college classes at RichmondCC offered through the Career and College Promise program.
“I wasn’t the best student my first few years of high school, but I knew I needed to straighten up if I was going to make something of myself,” she said. “I found that enrolling in the college classes forced me to mature and really learn to stay on top of my work.”
Bethea said her favorite RichmondCC class was Psychology 150 taught by Chris Auman.
“I found that as long as I was staying on top of what I was supposed to be doing, the courses weren’t that bad,” she said.
Bethea’s next step is entering another fast-track program that will expedite her college education. She plans to enroll in a political science program at High Point University that allows students to gain a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years.
“With all the credits I’ll be transferring from RichmondCC, I’ll be able to finish that program even faster,” Bethea said. Her ultimate goal is to attend law school and go into criminal defense.
Bethea is one of four high school seniors from Scotland and Richmond County who are graduating this spring only a few classes shy of having an associate degree from RichmondCC. Like these other students, Bethea was motivated to use her final two years of high school to earn two years of college credit for free.
The Career and College Promise program allows high school students — private, public or home schooled — to be dually enrolled in high school and college. They earn credit toward both their high school diploma and college degree when they successfully complete CCP courses.
The college classes are offered for free to high school students, which helps them save thousands of dollars on their college education.
“At Scotland High, we’ve made it a goal where in the next five years every student who graduates will haven taken at least one dual enrollment class,” Scotland High School Principal Cory Satterfield said. “We are always talking to parents and putting it in our announcements about the opportunities for dual enrollment and free education. And that’s what that the CCP program offers: free education.”
Satterfield said Bethea is one of many Scotland High School students who have taken advantage of the dual enrollment classes at RichmondCC.
“What a wonderful thing Hannah has accomplished,” Satterfield said. “Hannah is a testament to getting two years of free education, and she’s worked hard taking all her high school credits plus these college credits. She’ll be almost a junior in college when she starts.”
Successfully completing two CCP classes while in high school is one of the requirements of the RichmondCC Guarantee plan, which guarantees two years of free college tuition and fees to qualified students.
The RichmondCC Guarantee is available to legal residents of Scotland and Richmond counties who have taken at least two dual enrollment courses at RichmondCC and graduate high school with an unweighted grade point average of 3.0 or above.
“College is very expensive thing, and this plan is a wonderful opportunity for these children and to be able to send more people to college,” Satterfield said.
Beginning this fall semester, RichmondCC had 74 students take advantage of the Guarantee. These students are on their way to two years of free college tuition and fees.
“The excitement over the RichmondCC Guarantee has helped spur more students to take advantage of the free college classes offered through the Career and College Promise program, and we look forward to its continued growth as more people recognize the savings it provides,” said Dale McInnis, RCC president.
Wylie Bell is the Richmond Community College marketing and communications director.