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College work starts early
What if someone told you that your child could finish core college classes while in high school and still earn the needed credits to graduate high school, all completely free?

That's not wishful thinking. In Glynn County it's a reality.

Just a little more than halfway through her junior year at Glynn Academy, Molly Townsend has completed three college courses and is enrolled in three this semester through the Accel program.

In conjunction with her high school, Golden Isles Career Academy and Altamaha Technical College, Molly will complete several more courses during her senior year and likely enter college as a sophomore.

The college courses are offered by Altamaha Technical College, which is using facilities at Golden Isles Career Academy.

"Molly was a rising junior, and we found out the requirements and realized she could take some of her core college courses right now in high school, get them out of the way, and we thought why not?" said Molly's father, Rick Townsend, chief executive officer of the career academy.

Molly was blown away by the option. Having the chance to get a head start on her future plans, to become a physical therapist, has put a smile on her face, but it's no walk in the park.

"I work a lot harder than I did in actual high school classes," she said. "I'm finding myself writing more notes, studying on the weekends, and that was something I never did before.

"I would tell a future student that you'll have to work hard, but this really prepares you for college. It's worth it."

That was a plus for her parents - knowing their child would be better prepared for the transition to a college campus in a few years.

Another positive is that the college courses do not count against the HOPE scholarship cap. The classes count toward her high school and college GPA and credit, but no hours will be deducted from the number of credit hours HOPE covers.

Molly says she still has a connection to her base high school, where she takes some courses and plays on the softball team.

Lonnie Roberts, acting president of Altamaha Tech, says the program has proved to be an excellent option for students willing to work harder to earn academic or technical credit.

"Courses that are transferable are offered and include both academic and technical courses," he said. "Many students are taking basic core courses such as English, history, math and social science. Coursework may include areas such as culinary arts or criminal justice, depending on the student's college plans."

College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick also offers similar programs to help high schoolers earn college credit.

Whether a child is planning for college or technical school, there are courses available to earn credit.

Requirements to enter the Accel program include a 3.0 GPA and specific scores on either the Compass Test or equivalent scores on the SAT or ACT. Students must be in their junior or senior year.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

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