Early College Students Reflect On Their Experiences


Courtesy of Thomas Nelson Community College

Early college students have great opportunities to excel and succeed.

Newport News Public Schools offers an array of great educational opportunities for students- one of which is the early college program at Thomas Nelson Community College. The early college program is a partnership between Newport News Public Schools and Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC). Participating high school seniors take double block government and English their first semester of senior year and attend college classes at Thomas Nelson for the second semester. To ease costs, tuition and books are discounted by Newport News Public Schools, allowing students to get a jump start on college in their senior year.

Since we are now well into the 2nd semester, early college students from the class of 2019 have been quite busy. The Lion’s Roar reached out to some of these students to reflect on their high school experience and weigh in on what early college is like:

Emma Janney: “Stressful. I had to do a lot of senior things very early in order to finish school on time. Having double block English and government was difficult because it left me with a lot of homework some nights, but overall it was worth it. I think I was prepared for college; just going to school prepared me. In high school, you have to get work done on time but some classes are more free and will allow you to work ahead- and that is much like college. If you work ahead, there’s not as much work for you to do. I don’t think I was prepared for some small things, like knowing what to do if there’s a fire drill in college,” she laughed.

Although Janney is enjoying college and her independence, she misses many aspects of high school- “I miss seeing my friends. Honestly, college is so lonely sometimes because you can’t really walk to class with any of your friends because you won’t have the same class, and the campus is spread out far enough that it’d be out of a person’s way to walk a friend to class. Although I see the students from the MHS early college class in my classes, I still miss the friends I made in high school from theatre. I also miss doing clubs and activities. It would be too much for me to attend college, work, and do activities at MHS.”

Emma recommends doing the early college program for anyone who is granted the opportunity. “It’s been such a great experience,” she said. “You’ll get to learn things about yourself and your learning style, and you’ll be able to get to college early with NNPS paying half of your tuition and your books! Don’t be afraid that there will be too much work, because there will be a lot, but Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Porter will help you get it finished. There is always help for a student who asks.”

Jessica Berezutskyy: “The early college experience has been great for me. Some juniors might grimace at temporarily doubling up on classes and taking college English courses, but as long as you’re dedicated, I think the amount of effort is equal to any full year class. It was nice only having four classes because it gave me a chance to focus more on each subject rather than get overwhelmed by the normal seven,” she noted.

“The transition was pretty smooth. The counselors and TNCC staff take you through step-by-step and are very communicative in solving many problems. Having more freedom in picking your classes is really great, and the momentum of the early college program matches up well with how classes are at TNCC. Personally, I love my ethics class. It’s kind of heavy on reading, but the lecture discussion is like nothing I’ve experienced in high school- it’s really nice. My least favorite was probably my SDV college success class. It’s a requirement, and the work is pretty boring, but it only lasts for half a semester!”

“Honestly, I don’t miss much about MHS. If you feel that you’ll fall victim to senior-itis (like I did) then do early college! The atmosphere in college is much more relaxed and independent. The best piece of advice I can give is to stay dedicated! You can’t slack like you might in some high school classes (since in high school you have two or three more marking periods to make up for it), but it is so worth it. I got an extra week of winter break, and I’ll be done with my classes a month before graduation! This program looks great on college applications and you save a lot of money as well.”

Peyton Scarberry: “I don’t really miss Menchville- maybe the drama or gossip of high school because it keeps things interesting, but not much other than that,” Scarberry reflected.

“I like my biology and health classes. I’m not a huge fan of public speaking or pre-calc, but I absolutely hated college success skills. However, I do feel like I was prepared for early college. I knew what I was getting into and was ready and willing to put in the work.”

Scarberry advised, “Make sure you are willing to take time for studying- no matter how much you think you’re one of those students who don’t need to study. You will.”

All in all, our early college Monarchs have been enjoying their time at Thomas Nelson. If you think you might be interested on getting a jump start on college, make sure to speak with your guidance counselor about the early college program!