Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

College classes at a bargain rate


CCC program offers chance to earn low-cost college credits

by: KATE HOOTS - Lyndi Tucker, Wilsonville High School's college and career center coordinator, works with staff at Clackamas Community College to help WHS students enter college with credit already on their transcripts.Paying for college is something many families start saving for and worrying about almost before their children are born.

Families wanting to take a bite out of those costs can tap the Advance College Credit program. Some people may know local students use it to access Portland Community College but may not realize many students also have the opportunity to use ACC through Clackamas Community College.

Dollars and time savings

Under ACC, high school students in Clackamas County can earn college credit at a fraction of the cost CCC students pay, $10 per credit instead of more than $90.

Sixty-five students from Lake Oswego High School took part in the program in 2011-12 through PCC and CCC, earning a total of 556 credits and saving a potential total of $40,866.

Advance College Credit through CCC is available to LOHS students who are taking AP French (13 students this year) and AP Spanish (24 students this year). Some of those students may not pursue college credit, LOHS Principal Cindy Schubert said.

“Within education there is a challenge to help students achieve degrees within appropriate timelines,” said Cheryl Tallman, ACC coordinator at Clackamas Community College. “This is one strategy to help students get there. Students and families are also seeing rising costs for education. This program can be viewed as another form of financial aid.”

Lakeridge High School has students using dual enrollment for PCC but not CCC at this time, said Jennifer Schiele, Lakeridge principal.

Westside Christian and Riverdale high schools also do not use the Advance College Credit program through CCC, Tallman said.

ACC saved Wilsonville High School students a potential $144,207 in the 2011-12 school year, the latest period for which data currently is available. According to CCC, 172 Wilsonville students earned 1,962 credits. During that same period in West Linn, 219 students participated, earning a total of 2,249 credits and saving a potential total of $165,301. Canby and Oregon City high schools, 384 and 415 students earned 3,595 and 4,507 credits, respectively, potentially saving $264,232 and $331,264.

“It is a fantastic way for students to hit the ground running with a college transcript in hand,” said Lyndi Tucker, the college and career coordinator at Wilsonville High. “I’ve been responsible for the program at WHS for five years and have experienced the growth and success firsthand.”

Tucker’s daughter, Caitlyn, graduated in 2007, and because of AP test scores and ACC credits, entered the University of Oregon with 39 credits.

“After her first term at UO, she had sophomore standing, which is very beneficial when it comes to choosing and registering for classes,” Tucker said. “That advantage aided her in finishing her bachelor’s in four years.”

College credits transfer

Credits earned through ACC are transferrable to community colleges and state schools in Oregon. Out-of-state and private colleges and universities may or may not accept them. The CCC website lists schools that accepted the credits in the past, without guaranteeing future acceptance. That list includes local schools like University of Portland, Linfield, Willamette and George Fox as well as out-of-state schools like Boston University, Gonzaga, Stanford and Whitworth.

Tucker compared the ACC program favorably with AP courses that also offer the opportunity to earn college credit.

“More colleges will accept AP credit,” she said. Yet the AP program has some drawbacks. Students who hope to earn AP credit must take an AP test, paying $87 per test. Earning credit depends upon the test score.

“There is no guarantee with AP, and you don’t know until July,” Tucker said. Additionally, AP credit posts to college transcripts as “AP credit,” while ACC credits post as regular college credit.

The ACC program offers another advantage: Students apply for the program in November and again in April, with registration spanning a five-week period. Students can wait to register until they are sure they are doing well in the class.

“We really do encourage students to carefully consider whether to register for the college credit and to only do so when they expect to do well in the course,” Tallman said.

Once students decide to enroll in the program, they apply to CCC and then receive a student ID and email address. Tucker has fee waivers available for students experiencing financial need.

“CCC makes it so easy for us. There’s not a reason not to (participate),” she said.

Teachers and courses are screened.

“They submit their curriculum, their syllabus, examples of exams and they also submit their credentials, a resume and transcripts,” Tallman said. “Those are reviewed by the department of the course they’re covering. Are they assessing in a similar manner? Are the instruction hours and student learning objectives being met?”

‘Gung ho’ for savings

A yearlong ACC course translates to 12 college credits, costing $120. At CCC, tuition currently runs $84 plus $6.50 per credit, for a total of $90.50 per credit or $1,086 per yearlong course, Tallman said. The savings for high school students are even greater, she said, because high-schoolers don’t pay for the textbooks, housing and incidental fees college students pay.

“I think we’re fortunate, especially with the cost of higher ed now, that we can give these kids a leg up on their education after high school,” Tucker said. “When I’m telling (students) the cost savings, that sometimes doesn’t click for them. If I can get to the parents, they are gung ho.”

Credits cost twice as much at four-year public universities and are even higher at private schools.

“Whether students come here or to a four-year school right after graduation, we’re all in the same boat of wanting to see students succeed,” Tallman said.

To learn more about Clackamas Community College’s Advanced College Credit program, visit depts.clackamas.edu/acc.