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Students earn college degree before graduating high school

Posted May. 25, 2010

Earning enough credits to earn a college degree before even graduating from high school is a very attainable goal. The most recent graduating class of Kent State University at Ashtabula included two Jefferson High School students who reached that goal.

Denyse Au and Elizabeth Oeffner earned associate of science degrees from the campus through the Post Secondary Enrollment Options Program (PSEO) and were able to participate in campus graduation ceremonies. Both will graduate from Jefferson on June 6.

Au was very happy she took this great opportunity. "Not only did I graduate with a two-year degree for free, it also better prepared me for more college after high school," she said.

Priscilla Oeffner, Elizabeth's mother, said the PSEO program is what got her daughter through high school. "Being from a military family, we moved a lot," Priscilla explained. "Elizabeth had an extremely diverse multi-cultural upbringing until we moved to Jefferson, so the university provided her with a broader perspective of the world that high school can't always cover," she said.

At first, Au was not sure she would be able to handle the experience. She spent most of her last two years of high school taking classes on the Ashtabula Campus. "I was very surprised at how well I did in my classes," she said.

Priscilla thought her daughter was provided with a wonderful opportunity. "I've talked to parents who have not taken advantage of the PSEO program and later regret it because it pays for up to two years of college including books," she said. "Kids feel the same way because they're that much closer to college graduation," Oeffner said.

Both Au and Oeffner will continue college educations on the Ashtabula Campus. Au hopes to finish prerequisites for the physical therapist assistant technology degree this fall for entry into the program in January 2011. Oeffner will continue to earn credits towards a bachelor of education through Kent State University.

Kent State at Ashtabula's Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program is designed to provide qualified high school students with access to college level course work. Those looking for more information about the program can contact Liz Driscoll at 440-964-4242 or