May 10 Pellissippi State graduates began college as high-schoolers

Portrait of a male with buzz cut hair, glasses, and wearing a white polo shirt.As graduates cross the stage May 10 at Pellissippi State Community College’s Commencement ceremony, some of them will have begun classes at the college while they were still high school students.

Jonathan Caylor began taking college classes through Pellissippi State’s Fast Forward Dual Enrollment program as a junior at Hardin Valley Academy.

“Dual enrollment let me get a head start into something I really enjoyed. I could test the waters and see how things were before I fully committed,” he said. “It was really valuable.”

Caylor became a full-time Pellissippi State student in 2010. He graduates with an associate’s degree in Media Technologies, concentrating in Communication Graphics Technology. He also takes away three certificates: Web Design Tools, Accessible Web Design and Mobile Web Design.

Spencer Joy, the college’s Dual Enrollment specialist, said Fast Forward provides many Knox and Blount county high school students the opportunity for an inexpensive jump-start on a postsecondary education.

“It is a huge savings to students,” Joy said. Students can take a dual enrollment class at Pellissippi State for less than $60. Eligible students also may qualify for the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation Dual Enrollment Grant.

“Students who complete dual enrollment courses enter college ahead of others who didn’t start early,” said Joy. “It is also a transitional experience—students get acquainted with registration and what life is like on a college campus. Although still in high school, the vast majority of them succeed as college students, earning A’s and B’s.”

“The high school experience is nothing like the college experience,” said Caylor. “In high school, your hands are held, everything is planned, and everything is sort of in order. College is not exactly that way.

“Getting to do dual enrollment, even just a single class per high school semester, was a taste of college. I could experience the high school classes I had and merge over to this new college lifestyle.”

Following graduation, Caylor plans to seek employment in graphic design, perhaps eventually pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Kelsea Smith started in dual enrollment at Pellissippi State as a way to graduate early from Maryville High School. After graduating from high school, she elected to continue on at Pellissippi State.

“It’s the lowest price around, and it’s a really good college,” she said. “I like the professors and I like the environment: small classes where you get individual help, versus the larger universities and colleges.”

Smith graduates tomorrow with an Associate of Science in Teaching, with an Elementary Education option. Through a partnership between Pellissippi State and Tennessee Technological University, she plans to begin working toward a four-year degree in the fall.

For more information about the Dual Enrollment program, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.