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Students get a jump on college

August 21, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Scheduling his first semester of classes at Berea College in Berea, Ky., Timothy Washington didn't have to worry about working around an open section of the same freshman English classes everyone else needed.

The 1998 Martinsburg High School graduate had already taken care of that core requirement, thanks to a program started at his high school last year.

"I just wanted to get it out of the way," said Washington, 18, of Martinsburg, who plans to study engineering.

The College in Berkeley program gives high school seniors the opportunity to get a jump on earning college credits by attending night classes that count for high school and college credit, according to guidance counselor and program organizer Lester A. "Les" Smith Jr.

Students attend the classes at Martinsburg High School but earn the college credits through Potomac State College in Keyser, W.Va., Smith said.

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While bright Berkeley County students have always had the opportunity to earn college credits before graduation by commuting to Shepherd College or another school, the hassle deterred all but a handful, he said.

"Having the teacher here has attracted a significant number of students," Smith said.

The program won't supplant Advanced Placement sections of high school classes, which also offer students a chance to earn college credit, he said.

The big difference is that a college decides whether or not to award students credit based on their Advanced Placement test scores, not on how well they did in the class, Smith said.

With College in Berkeley, students need only do well in the class, he said.

The program, which started with one section per semester of freshman English and Western civilization, has already grown to include more sections of English and a section of art appreciation, Smith said.

Each class is worth three credit hours.

Classes are open to any high school senior with a 3.0 or better grade point average, as well as interested community members, he said.

Its $161.25 fee for a three-credit class is less expensive than regular college tuition, Smith said.

That was one of the reasons Martinsburg High graduate Sara Little said she took the history course last year.

"And to get it out of the way. I'm basically taking sciences, so history would kind of throw me off course," said Little, 18, of Kearneysville, W.Va., who plans to become an athletic trainer.

Intending a dual major in math and history followed by graduate school, Martinsburg High graduate Anna-Marie Lantz said she really appreciated the chance to meet her English and history requirements early through the program.

The classes also gave her a helpful taste of what college will be like, both in difficulty and teaching style, she said.

"We were treated more as adults than children. It was your responsibility to get your work done," said Lantz, 18, of Hedgesville,W.Va.

Classes start Monday. For enrollment information, call Smith at 1-304-267-3530.

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