College Credit Plus

On January 9th, the North Royalton High School counseling department had a presentation about the College Credit Plus (CCP) program. CCP is an initiative by the state of Ohio to allow students in grades 7-12 to enroll in Ohio colleges and universities to earn both high school and college credit at the same time. The goal is to enhance post-secondary success and career readiness. Students from every public secondary school are eligible to participate. North Royalton presentations traditionally paint the program in a negative light and instead promote their Advanced Placements courses, as AP enrollment bolsters the district on various quality related indexes. Since that presentation, North Royalton area social media has lit up regarding if CCP is a good or a bad idea. I imagine many communities have been debating the pros and cons of the CCP program.

As a child psychologist and parent of two North Royalton High Schoolers, I have both personal and professional experience with students enrolled in CCP. Most students in the Cleveland area take their courses through Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). Our daughter, Cassidy, is a senior and has participated in the program since her junior year. Our son, Benjamin, is a sophomore and plans to participate in the program next year. Cassidy has taken a mix of AP and CCP courses the past two years. Cassidy takes two courses at Tri-C each semester and four courses in the high school, and Benjamin plans to do the same. Many high school students I have had the privilege of working with have also participated in the CCP program.

Overall, the CCP program has been a positive experience for Cassidy. She began her senior year with enough credits to graduate. She has taken courses that interest her such as Introduction to Women’s Studies, when she would not have taken AP sociology. Because of her demanding academic load, she has had the flexibility to take two ceramics courses at Tri-C to provide her a creative outlet. Taking courses through Tri-C helped prepare her immensely for college. Her father and I have made an effort to not monitor her grades and have let her be responsible for her course selection and registration. Cassidy has learned how to advocate for herself, prioritize her time, and become comfortable talking with a professor. She has also learned not to procrastinate when scheduling or you might get stuck taking a class at a poor time or not convenient location. She also learned that she is not ready to take strictly online courses but can handle hybrid courses. These are valuable lessons to learn before she leaves for college in the fall.

My clients have mixed experiences with CCP. Some of my clients have excelled in the program and feel better prepared for college after high school. For example, one client learned that she can excel in an online course. Others have put in a great deal of effort to earn a B. One client earned a B in a science course and told me she was never as proud of a B as she was in that course because the course was more challenging than she expected. She learned that she can step up and put in the work. Still others, have not done well in the program and been placed on academic probation or dropped courses. Those students often were not mature enough to handle the independence that the CCP program requires.

I tell people that I cannot separate psychologist and parent. Both are always at play; the situation dictates which one is more apparent. With regards to the CCP program, I have developed recommendations that are based on equal parts parent and psychologist. I appreciate that every situation is unique, so these recommendations may not apply for you. Thus, these are general recommendations for the typical high school student who is working towards post-secondary success.

  • Your child would do well to be old enough to drive or comfortable enough to take public transportation to the college.
  • Take a couple of high school honors courses before enrolling in CCP to ensure comfort with a higher level of effort and material.
  • Earn mostly As and Bs in your pre-CCP high school courses.
  • Take a mix of high school (preferably honors and AP) courses and CCP courses. Taking only CCP courses can lead to isolation and feeling like an outsider at their high school.
  • Let your child take responsibility for the administrative aspects of the program like scheduling and purchasing books.
  • Ask about assignments and homework but do not log into their Black Board account and monitor their progress. Your child needs to be responsible for the course and assignments.
  • Do not stress over whether or not a CCP course will be accepted at a univeristy. Most courses will transfer to at least a general education requirement. Even if a course does not transfer, your child still learned valuable skills and you did not pay for the course.
  • Do not expect CCP, and AP for that matter, to allow your child to graduate college sooner. Look at it as giving your child some credit flexibility to change majors and still graduate on time.

My hope is that this post can help parents decide if the CCP program is right for you and your child. The enrollment deadline is April 1st. Good luck to all the high school students who plan to enroll or are already enrolled in the CCP program.