It’s hard to get folks to agree on much of anything these days, but we’ve found one thing that everyone seems to agree on: FREE tuition and the chance to get a jump start on college credits when you enroll in the Career and College Promise (CCP) Program at McDowell Tech are two of the best things since sliced bread. Those things rank right up there with apple pie, hugs from grandma and presents from Santa Claus.
Zoe Miller is one of those people who sing the praises of the CCP program, which allows high school students to take FREE college classes while they are still in high school. Zoe simultaneously took classes at McDowell Tech while she was a student at McDowell High and earned enough college credits before she graduated high school that she was able to enter a four-year university after graduation without having to take electives.
“I loved being able to skip all of those electives and go straight into my degree program. More than that, my parents and I saved a ton of money since I didn’t have to pay tuition at McDowell Tech like I normally would have in college,” she said.
Miller will complete her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration this spring from Western Carolina University with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and will enter a master’s degree program in Accounting at NC State University this fall.
“I would highly recommend the CCP program to any family out there who is thinking about applying to the program,” said Zoe. “I got my four-year college degree just two years after graduating from high school and McDowell Tech by participating in this program.”
While Zoe was Valedictorian of her high school class, she is also confident that knocking back two years of college credit while she was in high school helped earn her the scholarship money she received while she was enrolled at Western Carolina University.
Brandon Peek’s mom, Heather Peek, is another person sold on the CCP program. Her son, Brandon Peek, started in the CCP program when he was an 11th grader in high school. He took CNC (Computer Numeric Controlled) Machining classes each afternoon after he left the high school and, at just 17 years of age, began an apprenticeship program at ABB in Marion. In 2019, he graduated from high school and a Certificate in CNC Machining from McDowell Tech.
Those credentials and the skills he honed in his apprenticeship at ABB landed him a full-time job offer from ABB after he graduated from high school. Besides providing Brandon a full-time job, ABB is also paying for him to finish his associate degree in Machining. At 19 years of age now, he is only about 16 credits shy of completing that degree.
“I know participating in this program gave him a leg up on his career,” said Mrs. Peek. At 19, he is making more money that most 40-year olds, and it was all free for us. It was a blessing to us and to him to be able to participate in this program. He learned lots and lots of job skills and also lots of social skills in the CCP program. We can’t praise it enough.”
When Brandon completes his associate degree soon, he plans to take additional Engineering classes at McDowell Tech before transferring to an online university to complete an Engineering degree. “He is appreciative of the chance he had to participate in the CCP program and the great job it helped him get at ABB,” she concluded.
Shannon Rock was a CCP student at McDowell Tech during her senior year of high school about six years ago. She completed 12 credits (about 4 classes) at McDowell Tech and all of her classes transferred to Western Carolina University where she majored in Communications Sciences and Disorders.
She received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Western in 2019 and is now an elementary school teacher at Carr Elementary School in Dallas, NC (Gaston County). In addition to teaching, Shannon is also enrolled in an MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) program at NC A&T University where she is majoring in Elementary Education.
She highly recommends the CCP program to others. “It’s a really good program for high school students,” she said. “With just the credits I got at McDowell Tech my senior year, I was able to enter my sophomore year of college after just one year when I started at Western Carolina. If I had started in the CCP program earlier, I may have been even further ahead and could have graduated with my four-year degree even earlier. If I were to advise a high school student today, I would say, ‘Get as much as you can while you can, while it’s free.’”
Candace Cooper is one who did just what Rock suggested. She got as many credits as she could while she was taking the CCP program and as a result, she entered a four-year program with 61 credits behind her after graduating from both McDowell High and McDowell Tech in 2019.
“I actually graduated from McDowell Tech before I graduated high school,” said Candace. “I graduated from McDowell Tech in May of 2019 and from McDowell High School in June of the same year. Since the CCP tuition was free, I probably saved $30,000 or more over what I would have paid at a regular four-year university.”
After graduation from McDowell Tech, Candace enrolled at UNC Wilmington in the fall of 2019, receiving about 80% of her tuition paid through an athletic scholarship for playing softball for the UNCW team.
What she liked best is that by participating in the CCP program, she was able to bypass all of the general education requirements when she started classes at UNCW. “I got all of my general education requirements out of the way at McDowell Tech, so I was able to go straight into classes in my degree program, the classes that I wanted to take.”
Being the “go-getter” that she is, shortly after enrolling at UNCW, Candace also started taking classes through Montreat University, and this year she will receive both her bachelor’s degree in Communication from UNCW (spring semester) and her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Montreat (fall semester).
After graduating from those programs, Candace plans to enroll in the master’s program in Speech Therapy at Western Carolina University with the goal of becoming a speech therapist.
“Taking CCP classes was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” she said, “and I don’t know why more students don’t do it.”
And neither does Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “Students like Candace, Shannon, Brandon and Zoe provide perfect examples of some of the many benefits students get from dually enrolling at McDowell Tech while they are in high school. We encourage students who are on the fence about whether to apply for the CCP program to consider these examples and visit www.mcdowelltech.edu/ccp/ to get links to participate in one of our CCP information sessions coming up this week.”