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Student Voices | The Perks of College in High School

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6 minute read

Take Note partners with Johnson County Community College’s Promotional Writing class for stories of JCCC students who pursued college classes while in high school. The College Now program allows high school students to the ability to earn college credits through concurrent enrollment while completing high school courses. These stories explore the many factors students weigh.

Why Would a Student Choose to Take College Classes in High School?

For the Future

“My name is Trent Willard. I haven’t always been homeschooled. In fact, I went to public school up until 9th grade, which is when my family and I decided it was best for me to start homeschooling. I am homeschooled through Lawrence Virtual School, which is an online school for K-12th grade students. I’ve also been taking classes at Johnson County Community College all during high school. Being a homeschooled student means I have a more flexible schedule, which allows me to focus on my classes — and it also gives me the opportunity to enroll in college classes early.”

Trent Willard, 18, credits his decision to attend Washburn University to his instruction at JCCC through College Now. (Ben Johnson | JCCC)

“I picked JCCC because my sisters went here before going to KU and they both had great experiences. When I took a Forensics class at JCCC, I found I really enjoyed the subject. My JCCC professor told me about Washburn University’s excellent Forensics program, which helped me decide that Washburn will be my next step after JCCC. Taking classes at JCCC helped me figure out what career I wanted to go into. I’ll still be at JCCC next year and will then transfer to Washburn the year after that. Combining homeschooling and JCCC has been a good decision all around.” — Trent Willard, 18

— Ben Johnson

For the Right Path

“I will have completed three challenging college classes by the time I graduate from high school in May: Composition I, Composition II and Calculus I. So that means I will have 11 credits already completed before I even start college. It has been a relief knowing that these credits will transfer to any of the colleges that I am thinking about attending. I have had some trouble deciding which college I want to go to — one of them is in-state and the other is out of state. Since both schools accept Johnson County Community College courses, I feel as though I can make the best decision for myself without worrying about things like whether any of these courses will transfer or not. I’m also thinking about enrolling in an honors program once I get to college, and having these credits under my belt will make the workload a bit easier. I’m glad I participated in College Now at JCCC so that I could get ahead and be prepared for college.” — Addi Weakley, 18, featured above.

— Kendra Wendte

For Stability

“Military kids don’t have it easy. Moving from state to state, having to make new friends–and then having to leave them a few months later–had, sadly, become my yearly routine. And it seemed I was never in the same place with the core curriculum in every new school I attended. I was either behind or ahead of the other students. My brother was my legal guardian at the time and in the Army. We moved all over the United States, and even in Korea for awhile. We lived in Texas, Georgia, and finally settled in Kansas. In December of 2012, my brother was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. I was a senior in high school, but far ahead of all of the other seniors. In fact, the only class I was required to take for graduation was government. So, my counselor suggested I go ahead and enroll in a few college courses from a college of my choice to fill my time. I chose to enroll in College Algebra and Environmental Science at Johnson County Community College.”

Daijana Wallace, 22, is convinced being a “military brat” has it’s perks after being an “advanced senior” in high school allowed her to take college classes early. (Asia McFarthing | JCCC)

“But I was nervous. I constantly worried about such things like, ‘What if my brother is sent to a new state, or even a new country?’ And, ‘What if I fail this class and end up wasting all the time I’ve put in?’ Luckily, as time went on, I got more confident and realized that taking college courses while I was still in high school was a huge advantage. I decided to continue at JCCC once I graduated, and since I was already familiar with the college I was not even nervous. My experience of being an ‘advanced senior’ was so positive that I decided that being a military brat actually has its perks after — the main one being ahead in the college game!” — Daijana Wallace, 22

— Asia McFarthing

For a Head Start

“Ever since I was a little girl, all I’ve wanted to do was help people. While other kids were playing house or pretending to be princesses, I would pretend that I was working in a hospital, saving lives. I’ve always known that I wanted to be a nurse. During high school, I was eager for an opportunity to get a jump start on my college–and on my career. My school counselor introduced me to Johnson County Community College’s “College Now” program.”

Ashten Grabill, 18, completed her CNA certification and additional coures through JCCC before graduating high school. (Jaylen Cavil | JCCC)

“The program was a way for me to earn college credits while I was still in high school. I took full advantage of this program, knowing that it would help me achieve my dream of being a nurse sooner. I was also able to take a CNA course through JCCC and became a Certified Nursing Assistant. Thanks to the programs offered by JCCC, I graduated high school having completed 31 credit hours–an entire year of college. I was also able find a job working as a patient care technician at a hospital. Currently, I am in my first year on campus at JCCC and will be starting nursing school next fall. After I get my degree, I want to work as a nurse in third-world countries, helping to save the lives of the less fortunate.” — Ashten Grabill, 18

— Jaylen Cavil

For Confidence

“One big benefit of both of my parents being English professors at Johnson County Community College is that I get to go to school there free, which is awesome. I decided as a high school sophomore to take my first college class, which made me a little nervous since I was so young. I took a computer programming language class, which I found very interesting. Except for my age, I fit right into the class in college, since I have been into computers and game development since I was a little kid.”

Ethan Davs, 18, started College Now courses when he was 16 years old. (Gheed Nomaan | JCCC)

“At 16 years of age, I was the youngest student in my class, but JCCC classes tend to be very diverse and have lots of different age groups, so I didn’t feel that out of place. And I got a huge confidence boost when I realized I could keep up with the other students, contribute to discussions, and earn a good grade. I’m now a senior and have been taking classes at JCCC for three years. One of the main advantages of taking college classes in high school is that it’s enhanced my self-confidence so much. I find myself helping the other students in my classes understand the material, which seems crazy since I am younger than them. As a current high school senior, I am now completely comfortable in college. My experience at JCCC has helped me mature, develop confidence in my academic abilities, and boost my self-esteem.” — Ethan Davs, 18

— Gheed Nomaan

For Love

“Fridays were always my favorite days while I was away at school because that meant I was going home to see Shaun. We would always count down the days until we would see each other again. Taking College Now classes at Johnson County Community College while I was still in high school meant I could graduate college in three years and be back home with Shaun a whole year earlier.”

Jennifer O’Hara, from Olathe, Kansas, remembers counting down the days until she saw her now-husband. She chose to take College Now classes at JCCC to graduate early. (Haleigh O’Hara | JCCC)

“We were young and in love. I took as many college classes in high school as I could. I knew we were supposed to be together forever. Soon after I graduated, we got engaged. Honestly, as cheesy as it seems, it’s all true…the rest is history.” — Jennifer O’Hara

— Haleigh O’Hara

Follow “Take Note: Our City. Our Schools. Our Future” as together, we tell the stories that matter, the stories that make an impact. We want to know — what stories do you have for us, and what can we find out for you? Email us at

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