KILLEEN, TX — It’s no secret that college is expensive and can take up years of your life, but thanks to KISD’s Early College High School hundreds of students are graduating high school with their associate's degrees, debt-free. Many of these students entering college as juniors.
College can be intimidating when you're jumping in right after high school, but what if you're enrolling with your twin and have an idea about what the course curriculum will look like, is it still really that scary?
“I think that the easiest part of my experience was the college one, not the high school one, honestly,” said Jacob Hussey, an ECHS Graduate.
“Yeah, high school is really difficult. College is really easy,” said Samuel Hussey, an ECHS Graduate.
Jacob and Samuel Hussey are recent graduates of KISD’s Early College High School. The twins said their high school experience was a lot of work, but the outcome was worth it.
Jacob said, “It was a tough but very rewarding experience that had a very clear goal in mind. That really kept you going, no matter how difficult it got.”
At just 18 years old, these twins have their Associates' Degree and are debt-free. KISD’s Early College High School is designed to propel students forward and push them so far ahead they can attend upper-level universities like Texas A&M-Central Texas.
“I feel great. Nobody wants that on their shoulders. So, it's great I wouldn’t have got two years ahead without it,” said Samuel.
With approval from the Board of Trustees and Leadership from the district, Nancy Patterson KISD’s Chief College Career and Military Readiness Officer said, “Our district is very committed to making sure that our students have the best opportunities available to them. They've approved to pay for tuition and books for our students to take those college classes while they're in high school.”
Patterson said in their second semester freshman year, students at the ECHS can start working towards their Associate's degree, by targeting those core 42 credits required by the TEA, that is needed before the work begins on their main classes for their Bachelor's degree.
“If they're complete, they're transferable to other public and state universities or colleges in Texas. So, completing those helps ensure maximum transferability of credits or courses, which is huge if you're trying to complete a degree plan,” Patterson said.
Jacob and Samuel will be attending Texas A&M-Central Texas in the fall as juniors thanks to the credits they earned throughout high school at Central Texas College.
Janice Anderson the Dean of instruction at Central Texas College said, “They are as transitioning gradually, rather than being kind of like plopped into the middle of college. This is an opportunity for them to explore options and to figure out what their futures going to look like by you know, being exposed to different courses.”
CTC also providing transportation to campus while KISD picks up the tab for tuition.
Anderson said, “We also have people from Copperas Cove High School that are bused over here for welding, or automotive, and anything that they're interested in. We try to set up with them because we're partners, we're partners with both of those school districts and the districts in our service area as well.”
“Beyond just the financial benefits of it, it's a really important one because our students are being challenged, and they're being given an opportunity to kind of get a head start on their future,” said Patterson.
It’s a collaborative effort with the goal of higher education.
Dr. Marc Nigliazzo, President of A&M Central Texas said, “It a very special group, and the overall goal of the institution, is to advance the dreams of the students.”
Jacob and Samuel said doors have already been opened for them. As a future engineer and human resources professional they, forever grateful for it.
“They were really kind and made they would thing worthwhile. ECHS is a great school, I'm very thankful for everyone that allowed that to be a thing, honestly,” Jacob said.
Thanks to their hard work at ECHS, Jacob and Samuel have also received the A&M Board of Regents Scholarship which aims to assist first-generation students in achieving their educational goals. The two hope this will help them graduate college debt-free.