IGNITE Summer 2019 - Page 3

100 Steps Closer to a Degree Hallahan’s Groundbreaking Middle College Program When the class of 2023 graduates from John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School, several students will have twice as much to celebrate. In addition to receiving a high school diploma, these young women will be handed an Associate’s Degree from the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). It’s not college credit. It’s not advanced placement. They’ll be college graduates with a completely accredited 2-year degree. That’s because Hallahan is the first AOPS school to launch a “middle college” program that allows select freshmen to finish college courses during their high school careers. With the option to pursue tracks in either Business or Allied Health, young women like first-year Kimberly Marti will gain an incredible head start for their careers. Starting with the summer after enrollment, they will split their day between Hallahan and CCP. Mornings will be high school material; afternoons will be college-level. And students who participate in after- school sports and activities will be heading back to Hallahan after studying among college students. Luckily, the trek between institutions is not far, which is why President Denise Kassekert has named it “100 Steps.” Hallahan leaders found that this close proximity to CCP would give its young women a realistic opportunity in keeping up with the demands of a dual enrollment program. While some of the benefits of earning a 2-year college degree upon high school graduation are obvious, Kassekert notes that the students who complete their middle college journey stand to gain more than an extra piece of paper. “These young women are going to start their college careers as juniors. In addition to their academic achievement, they will save at least half the entire tuition costs of college,” Kassekert says. “And that’s before scholarship programs like Drexel’s that are automatically offered for students above a certain GPA.” Program Requirements Freshmen applying to 100 Steps must prove they’re ready to take on a high school and college workload simultaneously. Here’s how candidates are selected. • Students must have an 85 or higher average across subjects. • Students must reach high performance PSAT thresholds. • Students must take and pass the CCP entrance exam as freshmen. • Only a maximum of 40 students (20 per track) will be accepted. • Accepted students must pass the initial 5-week summer program. With a jump-start to college, enormous economic opportunity, and the higher acceptance rate for transfer students over traditional applicants, Hallahan’s middle college program participants couldn’t ask for a greater advantage — and it’s only 100 steps away. 3