Students are taking advantage of an opportunity to graduate high school with a college degree

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photo courtesy of Alex Parum

Alex Parum (12) will be attending St. Louis University in the fall of 2021 with a completed associate’s degree from STLCC.

Alex Parum (12) had a tough decision on the first day of his junior year in high school. He was deciding whether to become a full time student at St. Louis Community College (STLCC), or to stay at OHS for his last two years of high school.

“It was very difficult,” Parum said. “I thought I’d lose a lot of friends and miss out on the high school experience, but I was actually able to do most of those things and really only missed out on being at Oakville itself.”

Missing two years of high school to get started on an associate’s college degree seems like a pretty tough decision. Parum wanted to make the most out of his high school experience, but a free opportunity to start college early was too good to pass up.

“This program started the first day of my junior year. I am one of eight students within the district,” Parum said. “Honestly, there were a few ups and downs about missing two years of high school, but this program allows me to transfer into any other school. I’ll go in as a junior and then just continue onward with my major.” 

Parum plans to attend St. Louis University to be a part of the aviation management program. “I am trying to become a pilot,” he said.

Not many people get to say that they graduated high school with an associate’s degree along with their diploma. This program, called Early College Academy (ECA), lets high school students do just that. Based out of the STLCC campuses, students can attend ECA for two years, replacing their junior and senior year of highschool. During that time, the students are taught by STLCC professors.

The class of ‘21 will be the first graduating class from the program. Parum was one of four OHS seniors to participate in this program. Some students will join ECA to achieve more in their four years of high school.

Melisa Vilic (12) will attend Washington University to major in chemistry on a pre-med track. She also plans to minor in mathematics and Spanish. Vilic says, “I started [the program] because I felt like I wasn’t being challenged enough in my own high school. Basically instead of going to high school, you are a full-time college student.”

Before students enter the program, they must take multiple different placement tests. It is a very good opportunity for students who want to move further in a shorter amount of time.