Student earns a bachelor's degree—before her high school diploma

Raven Osborne is only 18 years old, and she's about to get her bachelor's degree—two weeks before she gets her high school degree.

How is that possible?

Osborne has been enrolled in high school at the 21st Century Charter School in Gary, Indiana, while simultaneously attending first Ivy Tech Community College, followed by Purdue University Northwest.

Osborne first began her path toward an early degree when she registered for dual credit classes at Ivy Tech. The college-level courses counted toward both her associate degree and her high school degree—but they also did something more: they showed Osborne how much she was capable of achieving.

Osborne kept enrolling in the college courses until she had earned enough credits to get her associate degree the summer before her junior year in high school. 

Dual enrollment programs are on the rise

Since Indiana has no laws limiting the amount of college courses a high school student can take, Osborne decided to keep up her momentum and enroll at Purdue Northwest for the second half of high school. She took the maximum number of courses her high school course schedule would allow—which at one point reached five.

Now, Osborne has not only completed all the courses required for her sociology major and early childhood education minor, but she excelled along the way—and never had to pay a penny.

To increase enrollments, consider partnering with a high school

Osborne's high school, the 21st Century Charter School, funded her tuition through its Evan Bayn 21st  Century Scholarship program, which provides a maximum of four years of tuition for students enrolled in their dual-degree program to attend any participating public college or university in Indiana.

According Ralph Cherry, one of Osborne's sociology professors at Purdue Northwest, he was never aware Osborne was still in high school.

What's the next step for an 18-year-old with a Bachelor's degree?

Osborne is currently interning at the 21st Century Charter School's elementary school with their intervention team, and will return in the fall as a teacher. She will make a starting salary of $38,000 per year.

"It was very hard," Osborne told the South Bend Tribune of her time as both a high school and a college student—but her hard work has paid off, and she's about to have two degrees with nearly the same date to show for it (CBS News, 5/1;  McCollum, South Bend Tribune, 4/3).

When it comes to dual enrollment, set credit standards are important

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