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TBCC Connections: Free College Classes for High School Students -Tillamook Bay Community College

TBCC Connections: Free College Classes for High School Students

By President Ross Tomlin

Ross Tomlin Photo

As we gear up for spring term here at TBCC, we are nearing the one-year mark of when the pandemic changed what college would look like for so many students. When that happened last spring, we stepped up to help our local high school students by offering free college courses to all juniors and seniors. We continued with the free classes during fall term, then the winter term, and have made the decision to again provide them in the upcoming spring term. Over 100 students each term have taken advantage of the free college classes. It is a way to help these students stay on track during an incredibly difficult and uncertain year for many.

In non-pandemic years, we have been grateful for our strong partnerships with the three school districts to ensure that high school students can earn college credit in other ways. Typically, college credit is earned in one of two ways: through Dual Credit and Expanded Options.

Expanded Options provides current high school students, who are 16 years of age or older, the ability to take college classes on their own at a reduced tuition rate. These classes are taught by TBCC faculty at TBCC or the high school.

Dual Credit college classes are offered free to high school students. These are classes that are taught in the high school by high school instructors during regular school hours. They typically include the key foundational classes that are required in almost all college degree programs. There are also skill-building options in Career-Technical education. Students can graduate high school with a certificate in welding, healthcare basics, accounting, and more. All Dual Credit courses show on a student’s transcript as full college classes and are totally free. In 2019-20, TBCC served 370 high school students and saved families over $342,000 in future tuition costs.

TBCC is continuing to grow the number of dual credit classes to provide even more opportunities for high school students to earn college credits. This can even lead to high school students earning enough college credits to complete one year of college or even a full two-year associate degree. Prior to 2020, TBCC had awarded one associate degree to a student graduating from Tillamook High School.  In 2020, Jacob Waldron from Neah-Kah-Nie High School, graduated from TBCC and the high school at the same time. There are now two more Neah-Kah-Nie High School students that will be completing their TBCC associate degree and high school degree at the same time this year. This saves the families two years of college tuition and fees along with giving them a huge head start toward a bachelor’s degree.

TBCC will continue to grow the dual credit program so any high school student can take advantage of this opportunity.  Not only does it save families money, but it gives students the confidence to know they can take college level classes and be successful, hopefully encouraging them to continue on for more college.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” We truly believe this at TBCC, and want to see all young people continue their education beyond high school.