Aug 21, 2015 5:02 pm

In an innovative new program, Pierce College allows students to finish their high school diploma while earning college credit simultaneously. For $25 per quarter, students can take as many classes as they would like while working toward their high school diploma.

Designed for adult learners, this program features rigorous courses that prepare students for success in college. During their final quarter in the program, students enroll in college-level courses, earning college credit while completing their high school diploma requirements. The Pierce College Board of Trustees chose to waive tuition for students enrolled in college courses while completing their high school requirements.

Modeled after the State Board for Community and Technical College (SBCTC) High School 21 program, Pierce College’s adult high school diploma program is designed to help students realize their potential by demonstrating they can be successful in college.

Many of these students never even imagined graduating high school, much less being successful in college. “Many of our students come here for the basic goal to earn a high school diploma, and have no intention of ever going to college,” said Transitional Education Director Lori Griffin. “But when they experience success in college during that final quarter, we are hoping they will continue their education and be confident they can do well in a degree or certificate program.”

Encouraging students to continue their education is imperative to meeting Washington state’s demand for a skilled workforce. According to Jon Kerr, SBCTC director of Basic Education for Adults, nearly three-fourths of all available jobs will require at least a post-secondary credential by 2016.

The Washington Student Achievement Council also reports that all adults will need a high school diploma by 2020, and at least 70 percent will need a post-secondary credential in order for our state’s economy to remain competitive. “It is so exciting that Pierce College is helping students make that transition into college while completing their high school diploma,” Kerr said.

After completing their high school diploma, students are eligible for financial aid and other scholarship opportunities. High school courses also use nontraditional learning resources available for free on the internet.

“We want students to realize they are capable of being successful in college,” said Chancellor Michele Johnson. “We worked hard to remove any financial barriers that may be keeping them from transitioning into college.”