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Hawai‘i Students Graduate College Before High School

May 19, 2018, 8:00 AM HST (Updated May 15, 2018, 6:32 PM)
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Fifteen Hawai‘i high school students from across the state earned college degrees from University of Hawai‘i campuses in spring 2018 before graduating high school through the Early College program.

A collaboration between UH and the Hawai‘i State Department of Education, the program offers students the opportunity to take college courses at their high schools for credit toward both high school and college diplomas. In addition to public schools, the program is also offered in collaboration with Kamehameha Schools.

Among this year’s early graduates is Craig Okahara-Olsen, a Waiakea High School graduate who earned an associate in arts degree with honors from Hawai‘i Community College one week before high school graduation.

“Taking early college classes is a great investment in the future.,” said Okahara-Olsen, who is the first Hawai‘i Island student to earn a degree through the Early College program. “It was a big journey for me and being here now, I hope I can go forward with this opportunity and inspire others across my community.”

Hawai‘i CC began delivering Early College classes at high schools in the 2013-2014 academic year, and the program has grow steadily since. Early College is currently offered at nine Hawai‘i Island high schools. About 600 students take Hawai‘i CC Early College classes each year.
During the 2017 to 2018 school year, 270 Early College classes were offered by UH at 40 public high schools and charter schools statewide. More than 375 classes are planned for next year.

“Participating in Early College is one of the best ways we have found to increase the probability of high school students going to college and then persisting from their first year to their second,” said UH President David Lassner. “It is particularly effective in improving college participation among low-income and under-represented groups.”

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