OCTC's Discover College-Early College Program Enrollment Increases

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OWENSBORO, KY (09/06/2017) Owensboro Community and Technical College's (OCTC) Discover College - Early College program is a collaborative partnership with area high schools and OCTC. OCTC's Discover College is the umbrella that covers all the offerings for students still in high school. Early College is the newest program within Discover College and has experienced significant growth in the past year. OCTC enrolled four students in the program in 2014-15, that number grew to 51 in 2016-17, the current number of students enrolled for 2017-18 is 96. Students are from Apollo, Daviess County, Hancock County, McLean County, Ohio County, and Owensboro high schools. Additionally, a number of home school students participate in Early College.

The interest and growth in the program brought the partners together to create a position, supported jointly, that would serve as an advisor, college guide, and mentor for Early College students. Karen Miller has served in that role since August 2016 and works with students to make sure they are adjusting to life on a college campus. "All the students accepted into the program are academically ready for college, but it takes students a bit to adjust to all the freedom that college offers. Their teachers are not going to hound them to turn something in, and while skipping college classes may not have disciplinary consequences, it does mean you miss all the material covered that day."

"The partnership with the high schools evolved to ensure the students are successful. Without the support from the high schools this program would not be possible. They are as much a part of the success as OCTC" added Scott Williams, OCTC President. The partnership includes financial support for the coordinator's position, held by Karen Miller. Miller is excited about the growth of the program. There are definite financial advantages to the Early College program, "students get started full time in their junior year, then transfer to a state university and have saved on average about $30,000" shared Miller.

Students may still participate in extracurricular activities at their high school. Early College students attend classes on campus at OCTC full-time during their junior and senior years of high school. "Early College students enrich our campus culture. These students have the best of both worlds-high school and college. They are excelling in both worlds and are active in extracurricular activities at their high school and on campus" shared Stacy Edds-Ellis, Interim Dean of Academic Affairs.

Students in Early College work toward graduating simultaneously with a high school diploma and an associate's degree. The tuition is covered through scholarships, self-pay, or through experimental Pell grants. OCTC is one of 42 colleges selected to participate in this three-year pilot by the Federal Financial Aid Service and the United States Department of Education. Students are responsible for transportation, books and supplies. "Prior to the Pell experiment, and this collaborative partnership, we had only a handful of these students at a time. There was a private donor who sponsored the tuition for some students, and we had some homeschool students take advantage of this opportunity", said Karen Miller, Early College coordinator. Last year OCTC awarded over $159,000 of grant funding to Early College students through the Pell experiment.

In May 2017, ten students graduated from OCTC with associate's degrees and their high school diploma. In May 2018, the college expects that number to triple. While the evidence is only anecdotal yet, one of the first graduates Lacey Parham, transferred to the University of Louisville with a full scholarship and was selected as the first student in the fast track juris doctorate program at U of L's Brandeis School of Law. All 10 students from the class of 2017 are currently attending a four-year university to complete their bachelors degree. "We are hopeful that the growth and success of these students will encourage the Federal Financial Aid Service to continue this program. We are currently in the second year of the three-year trial period for the Pell Experiment. I think that the impact this has had on these students is immeasurable" added Scott Williams.

For more information about the opportunities available through Discover College contact Dr. Stacy Edds-Ellis, stacy.edds@kctcs.edu or by phone 270.686.4573. For information at the Early College program contact, Karen Miller, Killer.Miller@kctcs.edu, or by phone 270.686.4420.

Add: large group photo and grid on the # of high schools and students enrolled?


Owensboro Community and Technical College is one of the sixteen community and technical colleges that make up the Kentucky Community & Technical College System. OCTC serves the KY counties of Daviess, Hancock, Ohio and McLean. OCTC has three campuses in Daviess County and a Center and Annex in Hancock County. OCTC strives to serve the communities in the service area by providing associate degree education for transfer, state of the art technical education for students focusing on entering the workforce, customized business and industry solutions through the Workforce Solutions division, and adult education and business and industry testing through the SkillTrain unit.


The Kentucky Community and Technical College System is the Commonwealth's largest postsecondary institution with 16 colleges and more than 70 campuses. We also are Kentucky's largest provider of workforce training and online education. Through partnerships with business and industry, we align our programs to meet the needs of local employers. We help students fulfill their dreams of creating a better life through programs that lead directly to jobs or help them transfer to one of our four-year partners.

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