One-third of Kent State students enter with some college credits

Megan Wilkinson

When Kyla McLaughlin, pre-pharmacy major, graduated from Caldwell High School two years ago, she had already earned an associate degree and 67 college credits from her school’s post-secondary enrollment program. Though it is McLaughlin’s second year on campus, she has already reached senior status.

“It was like I was graduating from high school one weekend, and the next, I received an associate’s degree,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin is only 12 credits short from receiving her bachelor’s degree at Kent State, but she said she plans to leave for pharmacy school at the University of Cincinnati in May.

“I really wanted to walk and get a diploma from Kent State this year, but the option offered to me at Cincinnati outweighed graduating here,” she said. 

Though she won’t finish her studies at Kent State, McLaughlin will earn her doctorate in only four more years because of her post-secondary studies.

More Kent State students entered this fall semester with some college credit than past years. 

Kjera Melton, institutional research information officer at RPIE, said about 31 percent of Kent State freshman had some college credit on their transcripts this year. Melton said most of these students earned 14 or more credits before their first semester at Kent State.

John Charlton, communications director of the Ohio Board of Regents, said numbers of students taking college courses in high school is also increasing at the state level. He said one of Ohio’s educational goals is to get more students to earn a bachelor’s degree in three years.

Students can earn college credit while in high school through post-secondary courses, AP courses, career-technical transfer credits and CLEP exams.

“We think students who take part in post-secondary or career readiness programs might be more motivated to stay in schools,” Charlton said. “If students take advantage of these programs and don’t change their major, they can either get a job earlier, study abroad or double major that fourth year.”

Sarah Leaman, junior chemistry major, said she got almost a year ahead in her college education by taking AP courses while in high school. 

“It was nice to not have to worry about filling a bunch of core requirements once I got here,” Leaman said. “But it was a little hard my senior year, trying to take three AP courses.”

Students can also take advantage of Kent State’s CLEP facility to complete Kent Core courses with a single test that only costs $102. Deborah Cartell, coordinator for career services, said about two-thirds of the students who take the CLEP are high school seniors who are about to enter college. 

Amy Fetterman, sophomore American Sign Language major, said she earned 21 credits alone by her first semester at Kent State by taking CLEP exams in her hometown. She said the CLEP let her test out of two math courses and general psychology.

“If you’re really strong in any of the CLEP test areas, definitely take the test,” Fetterman said. “I don’t know if I would be able to make it in four years without those tests.”

Post-secondary courses also benefit students who weren’t sure about their majors. Payton Curtis, senior pre-accounting major, switched his major from biochemistry to pre-accounting his sophomore year at Kent State.

“I might not be graduating early anymore because I switched majors,” Curtis said. “But I’ve kept on track otherwise and was more prepared academically.”

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].