ANDERSON — Justin Parnell joined Tri-County Technical College graduates in Tri-County Technical College’s spring commencement lineup May 8 to receive a college credential – before he graduates from Crescent High School.
He will be ready for the workforce with a certificate in Basic Electronics or can continue his education at Tri-County, which he plans to do.
“I’m excited about the credentials I will earn by June. I’ll have a high school diploma, WorkKeys certification and an Electronics certificate from Tri-County,” said Parnell, who was among the seven Crescent students enrolled in the program.
He’s talking about a new career pathway program designed for Crescent High School students to achieve a Tri-County credential by the time they graduate from high school.
Students receive Technical Advanced Placement credit for electricity classes taken in high school; then dually enroll at the Anderson Campus for four Engineering and Industrial Technology classes during their senior year.
The program culminates with students receiving a Basic Electronics Certificate by the time they graduate from high school. They also accrue 20-plus hours of college credit towards an associate degree in either Mechatronics or Industrial Electronics.
This innovative career pathways model is the first of several being developed with school districts in the College’s service area. These career pathways will provide the employer-defined skills needed in advanced manufacturing, business and other disciplines.
All of these Crescent seniors plan to enroll at Tri-County this fall and because of credits earned, most will enter as second-semester freshmen.
For two semesters, they traveled to Tri-County’s Anderson Campus four mornings a week and spent three hours in classes, earning a total of 20 college semester hours.
Cheyanne Davis says the best part of the experience has been “the freedom to learn and to express ourselves. Each class concentrates specifically on what we are interested in,” said Cheyanne, whose career goal is to become an electrical engineer.
Blake McDonald appreciates the one-on-one time with the instructors.
“With a small student-teacher ratio, it’s a lot easier. I knew I was on the right career path, but this class solidified that I made the right decision,” he said.
Ian McCraw still is amazed that he will graduate with a college credential before he graduates from high school.
“I’ll be a better college student because of this exposure to college classes and instructors,” he said.
Grant Harbin and Bradley Cheek agree the class has broadened their academic and career opportunities.
Justin says this past year opened his eyes to career opportunities in advanced manufacturing, including internships with major companies that lead to high paying jobs.
“This has been a good deal,” said Ian. “For a small fee, we can earn a maximum of 20 college hours and a credential during our senior year. It’s great to get started early with college,” he added.
In addition, if they maintain their LIFE scholarship status, their education at Tri-County for the next two years will be free.
“When I was younger, I had my heart set on Clemson University,” said Justin. “But with lottery tuition assistance and the LIFE scholarship paying for classes, you can’t beat going to Tri-County.”
He will attend Tri-County this fall free of charge. He also plans to apply for a technical scholars position.