Ways to earn college credit in high school

CollegeNow! at Hawkeye Community College allows students to earn high school and college degrees simultaneously.

Mercedes “Cede” Angel will graduate from Denver High School on May 24. As she and her classmates prepare to become high school graduates that day, Cede will stand out among them for one reason: she will already be a college graduate.

Cede will graduate from Hawkeye Community College on May 15 with an Associate of Arts degree, two weeks before she graduates from high school. She will transfer her credits to the University of Iowa and begin studying graphic design with two years of college already under her belt.

“I’m able to transfer everything, so that’s really nice,” Cede said. “It will definitely help in the long run.”


Cede Angel

Cede began taking concurrent enrollment classes through Hawkeye Community College as a freshman. Many of the classes were offered at Denver High School. By her sophomore year she had already made it a goal to finish her associate degree before graduation.

“It gives you a different work ethic,” she said. “It gives you that drive. You have to stay on top of it.”

Cede’s father, Chad Angel, sees the benefits of concurrent enrollment classes for both his daughter and the students he sees as a guidance counselor for Janesville Consolidated Schools.

“Two main benefits for her would be the financial savings and the time,” he said. “She’ll be able to start right up with some of her major classes and get right into that.”

During the 2014-2015 school year, area high school students registered for 4,055 courses at Hawkeye, earning 12,165 college credits. Many classes are taught in the high school by teachers who must meet the same National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnership (NACEP) accreditation standards as on-campus faculty. This ensures high-quality, rigorous instruction whether taught at the high school, on Hawkeye’s main campus or at outreach centers, or online.


In addition to majoring in graphic design, Cede plans to minor in psychology – a move prompted after taking several psychology classes through Hawkeye. She worked out her course schedule with the help of the high school relations team with Hawkeye’s College Connections program.

“We work closely with high school counselors,” said Shelly Christensen, associate director of recruitment and high school relations. “If there’s anyone they want us to see they let us know.” College Connections links area high school students with Hawkeye admissions representatives to advise them on college and career goals and create an action plan to achieve them.

Through College Connections, Shelly works closely with each student, making sure they’re getting the most out of the CollegeNow! opportunities. She helps coordinate class schedules and sometimes meets with parents who want to know how to help their son or daughter prepare for college.

“It makes it that much more convenient for students,” Shelly said. “It doesn’t matter if they want to come to Hawkeye or go to a four-year institution. We work with them to determine what is best for each student.”

Since College Connections began three years ago the program has expanded to 27 area high schools, including Wapsie Valley High School, where junior Destiny Rader plans to graduate from high school a year early and complete her associate degree by the end of her first semester at college.

Destiny Rader

Destiny Rader

“Shelly helped guide me on what classes to take,” Destiny said. “She helped me to not get overloaded with classes and find the right pace for learning.”

Destiny, who will attend the University of Northern Iowa this fall, plans to triple major in clinical psychology, sociology, and social work, with a minor in Spanish. She started taking classes through Hawkeye her sophomore year and will complete 12 college courses by the time she graduates from high school this spring.

“I want to get a head start with everything,” Destiny said. “I like to be a role model for my siblings.”

Both Cede and Destiny say taking college classes in high school has been a major benefit to their overall high school experience, giving them additional time management and study skills and helping them decide on their education goals.

“If you want a head start in life it’s definitely the way to go,” Destiny said.

Chad Angel agrees. Not only does he see the benefit for his daughter, but he regularly tells his students in Janesville to take advantage of what Hawkeye has to offer.

“I think it’s an excellent way to get a taste of what is expected of you after high school,” he said.

– Jason Staker

Five Ways to Earn College Credit in High School

Concurrent Courses
A concurrent course is a college credit course offered by Hawkeye at your high school or a Hawkeye outreach center. Many of the courses are taught by qualified high school teachers who meet the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnership (NACEP) standards. Your school district pays for the courses and provides the textbooks.

PSEO Courses
The Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program allows eligible high school students to expand their academic course offerings by taking college-level courses. Courses are offered at Hawkeye’s main campus, a Hawkeye outreach center, through the ICN at your high school, or online. Your school district pays for the courses and Hawkeye provides the textbooks.

Dual Enrollment
High school students may enroll independently in college-level courses as a tuition-paying student. These courses are considered dual enrollment courses at Hawkeye. They are offered at Hawkeye’s main campus, at a Hawkeye outreach center, or online. You pay for courses, textbooks, and transportation.

Project Lead the Way (PLTW)
Project Lead the Way gives you the opportunity to earn college credit and gain skills in engineering, mathematics, science, and technology. Courses are offered at your high school, at Hawkeye’s main campus, or at a Hawkeye outreach center. Your school district pays for the courses and provides the textbooks.

Career Academies
Career Academies give you the opportunity to earn college credit and may include hands-on experience in the workplace. (See a list of Hawkeye’s Career Academies).

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