Student Information & Resources
If you’re thinking about getting ready for college in high school, what’s the best plan for you? What about AP classes, Early College, dual-enrollment, and other options to get ahead? How can you pay for college without ending up with a ton of debt? Are you better off without a four-year degree and getting training or certification that helps you jump right into a career? What about just being you and enjoying your life while you’re in high school?
Since you’re here, we know you’re asking good questions like these, and probably some others, too. Don’t let any doubts get you down or distract you! You are old enough and smart enough and good enough to make solid choices about your future. Right now. We want you to know there are options for saving lots of money and time for a college degree, a career, or both. What you choose to do now can help you and your family in the future.
Right now, we want to give you some solid research and exciting benefits about the College Now program you can take to share with your family and talk about with your high school counselor. College Now will give you a head start, no matter what road you decide to take.
What is the College Now Program?
Students who enroll in College Now take courses from Gaston College — with free tuition — while they are still a junior and senior in high school. This program is all about helping motivated students like you save time and money on a college degree or the certifications that will help you get ahead in a career.
College Now is what we call a dual-enrollment program because technically you’ll be a high school and a college student at the same time. One of the great things about College Now with Gaston College is that many of the courses are also available for dual credit. That means a course will count for high school AND college credit — you do the same work, but get twice the credit!
College Now Benefits and Advantages for You
This isn’t a complete list, but as you can see, there are a lot of potential benefits for you and your family if you decide to take advantage of the College Now program.
- You can save yourself and your family thousands of dollars in tuition. The average total for tuition, room, and board for two years of college at schools in our region is around $38,000 — and that’s at a State school! You’ll save even more if you end up transferring to a private school to finish your degree.
- Earn college credit and high school class credit at the same time.
- It’s flexible. Choose from in-person, online, or hybrid (some online, some in-person) courses that you can take during your school day, at night, or over the summer — whatever fits your schedule and goals.
- Most students in the program simply use it to get a head start on school and make progress toward a degree, while others choose to maximize the potential of the program — it’s all up to you!
- You’ll be ahead of the competition for the job you want and college application requirements
- If you want to jump right into a good-paying job after high school, you can be certified in a specialized field to start your career.
- You’ll have the opportunity to boost your GPA while you earn class credits, so you’ll be more likely to get accepted at your top school(s).
- You’ll have lots of support to succeed with complete access to all the student success resources at Gaston College (more on that below!).
- In the program, you will find a community of over 1,000 students like yourself who are driven and want to get ahead.
- By the time you graduate from high school, you’ll have many more options for the future.
When to Get Started with College Now
You can start taking classes in the College Now program as early as the beginning of your junior year of high school and as late as the very end of your senior year of high school. It’s all up to you — the earlier you start, the more money and time you can save.
Since you will be signing up for junior-year classes in the spring of your sophomore year, ideally you would meet with your high school counselor and start the planning process in the fall of your sophomore year.
There are several options for the kinds of classes you can take. The program also has flexible options for when you can take them, so you can build the schedule you want. That means you won’t have to give up all the other activities you love, like sports or time with your friends.
If you’re in middle school but already thinking about college prep and getting ahead, we’ve got more good news for you. In addition to the College Now program, you should check out Early College. It’s based on a lottery system, but you could be eligible to start taking college classes in your freshman year of high school. Read more about Early College.
Requirements to enroll in College Now
Students must have at least a 2.8 unweighted GPA to enroll in the College Now program or be able to demonstrate college-readiness in English, reading, and math through an approved assessment exam. You will need to complete a College Now enrollment application as well as a Gaston College application. These are all things you should discuss with your school counselor when you meet with them.
In the meantime, fill out our form and you will be able to immediately download the College Now Guide. Inside you’ll find:
- A list of the most popular courses currently available through College Now
- Information about the Pathways you must choose between in the program
- Details about the Gaston College Promise Scholarship
- Information about the enrollment process
- And much more…
Gaston is Here to Help You Succeed
Gaston College is a great place to help you grow as a student and develop the college-level study, writing, and research skills you will need. Everyone needs some help along the way as a student, so we want you to know there are lots of resources you can take advantage of with College Now. In addition to resources at your high school, you’ll have access to student success initiatives at Gaston College including:
- The Gaston College Writing Center
- Academic Tutors at the Learning Center
- Technology Resources Support
- Counseling & Career Development Center
- Gaston College Library and Research Resources
- Disability and Special Needs Resources: Gaston College is committed to providing equal access to higher education for individuals with disabilities. Read more about these resources.
College Now Student Testimonials
Every student in the College Now program was right where you are today not long ago. A lot of them weren’t sure if they were really ready to start doing college-level academic work. Many of them didn’t have a clear sense of what they wanted to do after high school — but they took the time to do their research, got advice and help from their school counselor, and got started. When they look back on their decision, you can tell they are happy about their choices!
“The program has taught me what it is like to be a college student and given me exposure in my future field of study by allowing me to obtain a Small Business Management certificate. I would strongly recommend this program because I feel it has adequately prepared me for the next big step in my life.”
—Mansi Sodha, Piedmont Community Charter School
“This program was an incredible academic experience that allowed me to have a taste of true collegiate classes while earning high school credits.”
—Jeremiah Paul, Ashbrook High School
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the catch? Why is this such a good deal?
The State of North Carolina instituted what’s known as the Career & College Promise (CCP) Program in 2011. It is designed to help young people have access to a quality college education without taking on student loans and other debt. “College Now” is Gaston College’s name for our CCP program. We want students like you to know you don’t have to wait to start working on your future — you can start getting ahead for college right now!
The program helps students like you, and community colleges like Gaston College, play a vital role in growing local industries and businesses. Even if you don’t finish your degree at Gaston, but decide to transfer to a four-year school, your participation in the College Now program enriches the Gaston College student community, and that helps everyone! So, there really isn’t a catch or tricky fine print.
What about books, student fees, insurance, and other materials? Do I have to pay for those?
It depends! Some school districts have funds set aside to help cover the cost of things like this for participating students. This is one of the things you should ask your school counselor or administrator when you meet with them!
If it turns out you need to purchase books or cover the cost of student fees your school counselor can help you estimate the cost of those depending on the classes you want to take. College textbooks can be expensive, but the most expensive costs for college students are tuition and room and board. Since you won’t have to pay for these, you still wind up saving almost all of the expense of taking a college course.
What about transportation to and from Gaston College’s campus if I decide to take classes there? Is that available?
Gaston College does not offer transportation to our campuses, but we do offer a variety of course options, including online classes, courses offered at your high school, and more. Talk with your school counselor about the College Now options that are available and a good fit for your schedule and transportation needs.
I’m a home-school student — am I still eligible for the College Now program?
Absolutely, yes! You should talk with your parent, guardian, or school administrator about the program and then fill out the College Now application if you would like to enroll.
The Next Steps You Should Take to Explore College Now
If you’re interested in College Now, here’s what you should do next:
- Fill out the form to download your copy of the College Now Guide. It will give you more information about the program than we can include here and answer many of your questions.
- Talk with your family about what you’ve discovered with the College Now program. They will probably have questions, too, so make sure they see the information we’ve gathered for parents and guardians.
- Schedule a meeting with your school counselor and let them know you’d like to talk about your options for college and your career. Send them a link to our resources for counselors.
- Make a list of questions and things that are important to you before that meeting. It doesn’t have to be a long list, but make sure you take a little time to think about your priorities — financial aid, your schedule, and other activities that are important to you. This is your future, and your plan, and you can do this!