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The Kiskwaukee College Student Center Oct. 16.

NIU has partnered with Kishwaukee College to create a program that will allow students from certain high schools to get associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in three years. This can be beneficial to students trying to save time and limit tuition costs. The initiation of this program is a positive decision by both colleges, and it should be expanded to include more career paths.

Students who are involved in this program will begin attending Kishwaukee College in Fall 2020, Ron Smith, director of Community College Partnerships said.

“We are very excited for this program and believe that it is a great way for local students to save time and money while getting both an associate’s and bachelor’s degree, as well provide them the opportunity to stay in the area for a college education,” said Smith.

The 2 Degrees in 3 Years program promotes Advanced Placement and dual credit classes in high school as a way to earn class credit for both NIU and Kishwaukee College, according to the Kishwaukee College website. The college estimates a student can have the possibility to save over $46,000 in tuition costs by earning 32 credits in high school, 64 credits at Kishwaukee College and then transfer to NIU to complete any remaining credit hours.

AP credits can be an excellent way for high school students to get a jumpstart on their college educations. In 2018, a total of 5,090,324 AP exams were taken by 2,808,990 students, according to the 2018 College Board AP Program Summary Report.

NIU accepts an AP score of 3 or higher for most AP exams in order to award credit for a college course, according to the university AP score guide. The maximum score a student can receive on an AP test is a 5. Students who are willing to put in the extra work in these college-level classes in high school can receive a big payoff for their work.

The 2 Degrees in 3 Years program creates an important incentive for high school students to think about their college and career goals early.

The program is currently available for five major programs: business administration, computer science, elementary education, mechanical engineering and psychology. For the 2018 fall semester, there were 768 students majoring in business administration, 777 students in computer science, 330 students in elementary education, 654 students in mechanical engineering and 741 students in psychology, according to the 2018-2019 university data book.

“We decided to start the program with these 5 degree pathways as a foundation because they are the top 5 majors for transfer students from Kishwaukee College,” said Smith. “Eventually we will look into adding more pathways for more students.”

There are many other high school students who would be able to benefit from this program who are pursuing a different career path from the five current options, and hopefully the program will start to add more as it grows in the coming years.

The decision to create a way for students to save time and money while pursuing a higher education shows the support the university has for its students. The 2 Degrees in 3 Years program has great potential to serve even more students in the future.

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