Onward Academy allows students to earn associates degrees while - CBS46 News

Onward Academy allows students to earn associates degrees while in high school

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

Fifty-two students in Dekalb County Schools will be graduating with two degrees this month.

In addition to their high school diploma, each student has also earned an associates degree from a local college. It's all because of an innovative program the school district implemented in late 2016.

With just a few weeks left in the school year, Stone Mountain High School senior Anttwan Alford is looking forward to attending Clayton State University and studying to become a chemical engineer. 

He already has college experience thanks to the Dekalb County School District's Onward Academy.

"It kind of puts me at a head start because while they'll be spending time in college trying to get an associates degree, i already have one coming out of high school," said Alford..

The school district adopted its Onward Academy program in the fall of 2016 which allows students to earn an associates degree from Georgia Piedmont Technical College on top of a high-school diploma.

The best part is the program is free to students and is paid for by the state.

"You don't have to want to go on to college or want to earn a four year degree to participate because wouldn't it be great to be 18, have a diploma and an associates degree and just go straight to work?"

Manomay Malathip, who created Onward Academy, says it's a different kind of dual enrollment where instead of students driving to local colleges, professors come to the high schools.

"It takes away the barriers for many of our students that want to take college classes because in the traditional dual enrollment they actually have to apply, get in and then drive to the campus and that can be a hurdle that many of our students cannot overcome."

Alford says the program has created a sense of pride at stone mountain high school.

"A lot of times you hear about Stone Mountain and you don't really think of positive things but this i can say for sure is definitely a positive thing."

His friend and Onward Academy classmate Nyisha Jones admits at times the college courses were a bit of a challenge. But she says the program has given her opportunities she wouldn't have had any other way.

"What's good about it? Everything. The classes, the teachers the people that you meet the way that you get to network."

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