A free jump start on college

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

High school graduates can benefit from some tuition-free courses at community colleges.

Even as community college’s grapple with budget cuts, they’re ensuring their affordable educational opportunities continue in their communities. Many are offering some tuition-free online courses to help high schoolers get a jump start on their college education and to help people boost skills during the pandemic.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is launching a new summer schedule of tuition-free online classes for approximately 70,000 qualified area high school students. This is an opportunity for rising and graduating seniors to JumpStart their summers and earn college credit by attending up to two online courses that will run from June 1 to July 15.

The college is using institutional dollars from the federal stimulus to help fund the program.

“At a time when many members of our community are struggling with the COVID-19 fallout, NOVA has an obligation to ensure our future workforce is prepared for success,” NOVA President Anne Kress said. “The current downturn in our economy does not solve our region’s critical skills gap in information technology, healthcare and skilled trades. When our economy bounces back, our students must be ready.”

The online courses have been selected because they fulfill not only NOVA degree requirements but also transfer to most colleges and universities. Also, in partnership with Amazon Web Services, the JumpStart offerings will include an online course in Cloud Computing, providing students with their first step onto an in-demand local tech pathway, according to NOVA’s press release.

Hagerstown Community College in Maryland also is offering two tuition-free “Grad Gift” courses to high school graduates.

In Missouri, State Fair Community College (SFCC) has announced every high school student in SFCC’s tax district who earned their diploma this spring will receive one three-credit hour class tuition-free for the 2020 summer session.

The base tuition rate for in-district students is $115 per credit hour, thus saving students $345.

“The Class of 2020 has missed that joyous conclusion of their high school experience, and we want to make it easier for them to refocus on their future and to continue their education,” SFCC President Joanna Anderson said. “We want students in our taxing district to get an early start on their college journey or, if they need help in choosing a career path, they can explore an area of study tuition-free.”

SFCC navigators have contacted administrators at applicable high schools to make sure they are aware of this offer.

The college also is offering 10 free online, non-credit courses through The LearningForce. The enrichment courses consist of 24 hours of instruction that needs to be completed in three months. Some courses being offered are Personal Finance, Creating WordPress Websites and Managing Customer Service.

These same free courses are being offered through several community colleges across the country, including Tennessee’s Nashville State Community College and Michigan’s Grand Rapids Community College.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.