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Erin Maes is one of six of ResponsiveEd’s iSchool High seniors to graduate from college before she graduated from high school. She and three other classmates from iSchool High of walked across the stage May 15 at Lone Star College in Houston to receive her associate degree. Eleven days later the teens received their high school diplomas.

“It was amazing to see all the different people at the Lone Star graduation. Some are older and some were not, but here we are at 18 graduating with them. It is a little hard to comprehend,” she said.

In the fall, she plans to attend University of Texas in Austin for two years and complete her bachelor’s in mathematics. By finishing her first two years of college at Lone Star College through iSchool High Montgomery’s early college program, Erin was able to save two years of college, which worth about $44,000 at UT Austin in tuition, room and board.

To read about how much you can save by taking college credits in high school click here.

She and her classmates Sarah Chisum, Christy Le and John Bailey, graduated from iSchool High at Montgomery with an associate degree. Ozair Iyoob from iSchool High at University Park, and Abigail Bolton from iSchool High Amarillo also graduate with their associate degrees. The six students completed most of their 60 college credits free of charge.

To read about Abigail Bolton’s plans to become a dentist, click here.

To read about John Bailey’s experience, click here.

Campus director Stacy Bare at iSchool High in University Park believes the early college program helps students not only get ahead with credits, but also provide the college experience in a unique way.

“Dual credit courses with iSchool High at University Park has bridged the gap for students between being college ready and college successful. Ozair is an incredible young man with a bright future. He began with the end in mind, took charge of his education, weathered the storms and came out on top,” said Ms. Bare.

Michael Griffin, the campus director at iSchool High of Amarillo, believes it is important that parents and students start thinking about college in middle school because early planning can open more opportunities.

“College can be expensive. When you have driven students like Abigail it is important that they have the resources that will help them excel. My job is to make sure students are challenged in their studies and that parents are aware of the opportunities available,” said Mr. Griffin.

The Houston-area iSchools partner with Lone Star College to help students earn up to 60 college credits and possibly graduate with an associate degree. Students complete the necessary high school credits through a mastery-based curriculum that allows them to accelerate their coursework and begin taking classes at the college once they have past the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Assessment.

Together these six seniors completed 360 college credit hours which is worth about $141,159 at a public state school and $486,075 at a private school.

Erin says it hit home just how far ahead she is when she heard her friends at the local public high school talk about their plans after graduation.

“Some of my friends told me they are planning on going to Lonestar in the fall and I realized I’ve already done that. It seems unreal how far ahead of them I am, then I think back to my time studying and testing and I know I’ve put in the work,” she said.

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