by ALLISON TILLOTSON
Juniors and seniors can start earning college credits while still in high school. We have two programs that are available to any Hays CISD junior or senior – Early College Start and College Connection.
In the Early College Start Program, our juniors are earning high school and college credits at the same time. These courses are called dual credit courses. Any student involved in the Early College Start Program can take up to two college courses per semester. High school students may co-enroll in Austin Community College once they have: successfully completed their sophomore year, received permission from a parent and the high school principal and counselor, and passed the ACC admissions test or scored acceptable scores on the PSAT, PLAN, TAKS, ACT or SAT tests. Tuition is waived for courses taken during the school day on any Hays CISD campus. The costs of the textbooks are the responsibility of the student. Most Austin Community College courses transfer easily to other public colleges and universities in Texas. Please see your College and Career Counselor or any counselor at any Hays CISD high school for the enrollment steps for this program.
In Texas, College Connection was created to increase student enrollment in higher education. College Connection is offered as a support system for high school seniors to help them make a smooth transition to college. Austin Community College personnel are working with senior students and the counseling staff throughout the school year to complete the Austin Community College application process. An explanation of the College Connection program and the initial application process are completed with senior students during the fall semester. Required testing is given to seniors on the Hays CISD campus during the school day in early spring; the test is free to College Connection students. In late spring, student advising will be completed at each local high school. Once advising is completed, students may register for Austin Community College courses if they wish to attend an Austin Community College campus. Upon graduation, high school seniors receive acceptance letters and steps for the admissions process from Austin Community College. The acceptance is long term, and will allow students to enter ACC this summer or to wait before attending. This acceptance will also allow Hays CISD graduates to take courses which will transfer to another college or university; some students do this during the summer. Once students graduate from a Hays CISD high school, they will be responsible for Austin Community College tuition and fees. To learn more about Austin Community College and these programs, you may visit the Austin Community College website at www.austincc.edu.