Students skipping high school, going straight to college

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Some Ascension Parish freshmen are skipping high school and going straight to college. They're taking classes on a college campus, but they're not your typical college-aged students.

"I want to be a lawyer when I grow up," Jason Stoehr said.

"I want to be an OB/GYN to help parents and kids," Ja'leah Augillard said.

Stoehr and Augillard are fresh out of middle school. They are among 32 students in Ascension Parish who are getting a rare jump start on their futures under the Early Option Program. It's a partnership between the school system and River Parish Community College. They get to take classes with college students on the RPCC campus and earn college and high school credits at the same time.

"They're studying the same courses. All of their high school courses are honors level courses. Their college courses count as high school courses as well so they're basically earning two GPAs right now," program administrator, Julian Surla said.

Just two months in, the students are hard at work, well aware that what might appear as an ordinary high school classroom setup is anything but.

"We take more notes. We do more homework," Augillard said.

The students are already comparing notes and carefully planning their futures.

"Mr. Surla says that TOPS buys you four years of college and if I already have two years, maybe I can just go ahead and get a master's degree and then I'll have a lot more job opportunities open up," Stoehr said.

The students will graduate with an Associate's Degree in Humanities. They'll be able to begin their careers at the age of 20 if they choose or continue on to a four-year university to earn a bachelors degree.

The students will move to the new RPCC campus in Gonzales once it's finished next fall.

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