Student saves time and money with College Now program

The College Now program at Gaston College gave Gwen Campau, a senior at Stuart Cramer High School in Belmont, N.C., the opportunity to take college courses while attending high school. With her combination of high school AP exam credit and college classes, Campau will earn her Associate in Science degree from Gaston College this May, followed by her diploma from Stuart Cramer when she graduates in June.

College Now is a dual-enrollment opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to take tuition-free college classes from Gaston College in a schedule and format that works for them. “When I found out about College Now, I wondered why more people weren’t taking advantage of it,” said Campau. “It’s basically free college and a way to make the most of your time in high school.”

Campau says that participating in College Now was somewhat stressful at times because she carried a very heavy course load, but it was all worthwhile when she realized that she could meet the requirements to earn her associate degree by the end of her senior year in high school. She will transfer that degree to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the fall and intends to finish her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. “I don’t know exactly what I want to be right now,” she said, “but I’ve been interested in the computer science field since elementary school. I should be able to narrow it down to a more specific area while I’m at UNC-C, especially since they have an amazing program that’s very supportive of women seeking STEM-related careers.”

The support and encouragement Campau received from the College and her high school guided her along the path to graduation and earning her degree. Kacie Strong, the College Now Coordinator at Stuart Cramer High School, said, “I have worked with Gwen over the past two-plus years. She was extremely eager even from 10th grade to start and take advantage of the College Now Program. She has been extremely successful in the program and has gained valuable knowledge. When she graduates high school, she will have taken 15 College Now courses, earning all A’s in both the Associate of Science pathway program and the Information Technology pathway program classes. In addition to the 15 high school

credits, she will have 49 college-transferable semester hour credits. Gwen has worked extremely hard to accomplish this, and we are extremely proud of her successes here at SCHS.”

To other high school students who are considering participation in the College Now program, Campau says, “Definitely make use of the resources at Gaston College. I’ve used the writing center many times (they’ll help you with your college applications) and they have a good tutoring center as well. And be sure to ask your teachers, counselors, and other students questions when deciding which classes to take—their advice will help you get the most out of the program. Taking even one tuition-free class through College Now gets you closer to a degree.

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