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Regional high schoolers are getting a head start with this Pitt-Bradford program

Yohe sits at a classroom desk with a laptop

Joshua Schuessler of Rixford, Pennsylvania, had already earned 15 college credits — equal to a typical semester — before ever stepping onto the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s campus as a first-year student.

Schuessler earned those credits as an Otto-Eldred High School student through Pitt-Bradford’s College in the High School program, which allows students to earn college credits from certain courses taught by their high school teachers, who are certified through the program.

He completed five courses, including algebra, biology and environmental studies, which all counted toward his general education requirement at Pitt-Bradford.

That academic jump-start will help Schuessler, an early level education major, graduate early and save money. “I highly recommend the program to high school students,” he said.

Participation in dual-enrollment programs has skyrocketed nationwide since the practice began in 1955. Pitt-Bradford’s College in the High School program, now in its 20th year, has also grown significantly and become one of the largest of its kind in Pennsylvania. During the program’s first year, 32 students from five high schools participated. This year, 1,216 students from 30 high schools are taking a total of 2,217 classes, earning 7,251 college credits. 

It helped save me a lot of money … and to double major and still graduate in time.

Sarie Yohe of Bradford, an early level education major who expects to graduate this spring, pictured above, arrived on campus with nine credits, which helped her maintain a manageable course load throughout her time at Pitt-Bradford. “Not only did this help lessen my workload, but it was a cheaper route for my parents and I,” she said.

Madison Hartman of Limestone, New York, a sophomore majoring in applied mathematics and mathematics education, earned 20 college credits while a Bradford Area High School student.

“It helped save me a lot of money … and to double major and still graduate in time,” Hartman said.

The program costs $125 per class, though some participating school districts cover either all or part of that cost for their students. And the benefits extend beyond saving time and money.

“These students tend to have higher retention and graduation rates than those who don’t participate in the program,” said James Baldwin, Pitt-Bradford’s vice president of enrollment management, who co-directs the program with Stephen Robar, associate professor of political science.

Back at Otto-Eldred School District, where Schuessler attended high school, 54 students are enrolled in the program.

“Many students gained a significant head start in their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. Each of these students avoided thousands of dollars of debt,” said Matt Splain, superintendent of the district. “A number of students were able to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in less than four years.”

Find more information on the College in the High School website or contact Program Coordinator Jody Randolph, jar1 [at] pitt.edu.


— Kimberly Marcott Weinberg, photography by Glenn Melvin