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Students in Robertson County Schools have a growing list of opportunities to develop skills, increase learning opportunities, and earn certifications as a result of Early Post-Secondary Opportunities, (EPSO) in district high schools.  

These early opportunities provide for college level classes at Austin Peay State University and Vol-State Community College, and advanced trade education and certification at Tennessee College of Applied Technology.  The APSU collaborative learning EPSO path can actually provide for a graduating RCS high school senior to concurrently earn an associate’s degree from the university.  

According to the Tennessee Department of Education, early post-secondary opportunities allow students to achieve the following:

*Earn post-secondary credits in high school.

*Become familiar with post-secondary learning expectations and requirements.

*Develop confidence and study skills necessary for success in post-secondary coursework.

*Make more informed decisions about post-secondary plans and career goals.

*Decrease the time and cost of completing a certificate/degree

Recent RCS graduates have participated in, and benefitted from, the enrollment opportunities offered.

Oliver Head is currently working on a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO, and graduated high school with an associate’s degree from APSU.  He said the program offered him multiple advantages.

“From a practical standpoint, receiving my Associate's at the time I graduated was beneficial in providing me with several credit hours in electives and MAPS (Minimum Academic Preparation Standards) so I wouldn't need to take them at CU Boulder,” he said. “For me though, the district collaborative program aided me the most by showing me the kind of discipline and structure that is expected from college level courses.  The opportunity of taking college level courses in high school improves almost every aspect of the skills you need to be successful in post-secondary education. I now have much better writing skills, email etiquette, and social skills.”

Lillian Mays echoed Head’s comments with her own reflections from taking advantage of EPSO. 

“This prepared me by allowing me to jump right into classes that will steer me toward my major,” she said. “I was able to skip many prerequisite classes that won’t necessarily benefit me in pursuit of the career that I would like.”  She said the opportunity also enabled her to prepare for the demands and work-load of college.

“I think the opportunities are well worth it,” she said. “It is a great opportunity to get ahead in your academic career, especially when you are planning on being in school for a long time. It helped to prepare me for the academic independence that college brings, you really have to learn how to manage your time and your work load. It helped to keep me responsible. 

“It also helped me to build community and meet students that had similar goals and passions for school and this motivated me going forward that I was not alone in my pursuits. I believe this opportunity is an excellent one and would recommend it to any student wishing to get ahead and that has the drive to achieve the goals they set ahead of them.”

To find out additional information, be sure to contact your child's school counselor.  Schedule requests for high school students will begin soon.  Make sure you and your student know about the different opportunities available to jumpstart your child's post-secondary plans. 

Jim Bellis is with Robertson County Schools.

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