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Getting a jump on college

January 20, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Editor's note: What are your best memories from your senior year of high school? Was it prom? Making the basketball team? Did you get your driver's license that year? This school year, The Herald-Mail will talk with seniors from each public high school in Washington County about the memories they are making. Each month through their graduation, the eight students will talk about the moments that are making their senior year special.

CLEAR SPRING - He's having mixed feelings.

Senior Jessey Flowers says he's ready for college, but isn't prepared to leave Clear Spring High School just yet.

This month, though, the 17-year-old will start preparing for life after high school. On Jan. 14, he began taking two courses at Hagerstown Community College. He also is taking three classes at Clear Spring.

"I'm ecstatic," Jessey said.

He'll be taking a technology course and an art course at the college and said he thinks he'll do well in both. Jessey said he has an interest in computers and likes the "geek lingo" in his new textbooks. Jessey said he also likes the free expression of art.

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After graduation, Jessey hopes to enroll full time at HCC and eventually transfer to a four-year institution, he said.

There, he would like to study physics or another science field. After graduation Jessey said he would like to "get a high paying job, like every person does," but mostly he sees himself working in a laboratory or a planetarium.

Jessey is one of about 400 high school students in Washington County who take advantage of HCC's Early Support for Students to Enter College Education (ESSENCE) program each semester.

"I'm getting a head start on college," he said.

Kevin Crawford, recruitment coordinator at Hagerstown Community College, said that the popularity of the ESSENCE program has grown because students are eager to get a head start on their general college courses.

Students must be at least 16 years old, have a 2.5 grade-point average or higher, and have approval from their school in order to participate.

"(HCC) allows students to sort of get their feet wet," Crawford said. "It's not a culture shock for them when they do go to college. They've taken a class now ... gotten an idea of what that atmosphere is like."

The program also lets students adjust to the rigor of college courses.

Jessey said he definitely is getting into the rhythm of college - especially after seeing the bill for his tuition and books.

He said he paid his tuition from money he had saved, and his mother paid for his books.

Through the ESSENCE program, high school students are offered discounted tuition, Crawford said.

Jessey said his excitement is eclipsed only by that of his parents. His mother, Chris Flowers, and his father, Rick Flowers, are proud of him.

"That makes me feel good," Jessey said. "For my mom, it's like her little boy is growing up."

Jessey will take another step toward higher learning Jan. 26, when he takes the SAT for the first time. He missed his first attempt in December, when he misread the start time for the college entrance exam.

"I thought it was 8:45 (a.m.)," he said. "But it was from 8 to noon."

Now, information about the SAT, including the time the exam will begin, is hanging on his refrigerator at home.

Jessey has been taking a college preparation course at Clear Spring, and a large part of the class is preparing for the SAT. He has taken several practice exams, and said he's hoping to score about 550 points on each of the three sections - math, reading and writing.

"There are certain ways to write your essays, and there are tips," Jessey said.

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