Advanced College Academy by Kaitlin McLendon

Advanced College Academy by Kaitlin McLendon
Posted on 10/28/2018

What if someone told you that you could graduate high school with an advanced high school diploma and a college associates degree?

In the Advanced College Academy (ACA) at Hanover County Public Schools, students enroll in college courses in their junior and senior year, earning credits to graduate with an associate of science in social science degree from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. To qualify for this program, students must apply in their eighth grade year, meet the qualifications, and be selected out of the running pool.

This program centers on a cohort of twenty-five students from each grade level, both from Patrick Henry and from Hanover High School. Starting their freshman year, this group of unique individuals will attend the same classes throughout the course of their A-day. The purpose of a cohort is to create a close-knit environment of students to promote collaboration and provide academic support for each other. Makenzie Carbone, a senior from Hanover High School in the ACA, says “I like that close bond we all have formed with having classes together over the past years.” Everyone in the ACA can agree that one of the best parts about the program is the friendships you make. 

One of the drawbacks for Hanover students is traveling to PH on ACA days and then attending their home school on B-days. However, the benefits of being in this program surpass any travel inconvenience. Carbone was the only Hanover High student who applied to ACA from the senior class, but she says “being the only student in the twelfth grade ACA that is from both Hanover and PH is kind of fun and difficult at the same time. I like having two different perspectives, and I’ve enjoyed meeting new people!” 

Not only does the ACA have a supportive environment from fellow students, but the numerous counselors and teachers associated with the program support these students as well. 

The ACA program is not designed to be an easy ride, and students have found out that the rigor and workload are quite extensive. “The classes are hard. I didn’t know what to expect,” said Senior Libby Klinger. However, there are many ways to manage your time and workload by staying organized and using the resources available to help. One of the most challenging aspects of ACA is the transition from sophomore to junior year, when Reynolds classes begin. Many students find it overwhelming when first adjusting to the college classes, but soon it becomes routine. 

Although it takes many years of hard work, the outcomes from ACA are by far worth it. Many students look to transfer their sixty-two credits to a four-year university after high school, in hopes of getting a head start in college to earn a bachelor's degree in two years. For others, it is about having more time to explore their opportunities and possible future career paths while at college. Some students even choose to use their potential two-year advantage to receive a master’s degree in only four years after high school. 

Overall, the ACA is a great program designed to allow students a way to accomplish college general education requirements in high school. “I would recommend the ACA; there is nothing else like it with the benefits at that price,” Klinger said, “We are all such a close group, and I like how we always have a place of belonging in our academic life.”

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