College experiences differ in form

Junior Christina Brammer takes college classes online to get ahead while still in high school.

Completed Classes:

College Chemistry I (through UNI on campus)

Principles of Speech (online through Iowa Community College Consortium)

Economics (online through Kirwood College)

Digital Photography (online through North Dakota Center for Distance Education)

Currently Enrolled Classes:

Calculus I (online through Iowa Community College Consortium)

C++ Programing (online through Iowa Community College Consortium)

College Writing and Research (online through the University of Northern Iowa)

Managing a normal day of high school is challenging enough, but junior Christina Brammer is doing the ultimate challenge by taking online college classes along with her normal high school education.

Over the summer, Christina took a speech class from Iowa Community College Consortium and a General Chemistry class from UNI. These online classes are getting her ahead and preparing her for college life.

“My goal is to get a major in electrical engineering at UNI, so getting ahead as much as I can is what I’m concentrating on,” Christina said. “Instead of taking the AP classes here at the high school where you are not guaranteed to get the college credit if you don’t pass the test, I think that taking these online classes will really help me get ahead and start working right away after college.”

There were many questions as to if this was the best decision for her, but dad, Michael Brammer, was confident that this was what was going to get her ahead and ready. “I believed Christina was ready for college classes since she has a good idea of what she wants to major in,” Michael says. “She also did very well with the honors classes she took her sophomore year at the high school, and the classes were an excellent preparation for college level work. The stress on the forced schedule at the high school was not healthy for her, and she would have repeated that same scenario this year if she had stayed with high school classes.”

Apart from getting ahead, Christina is getting a preview of what college work entails and how she has to plan her time to get everything done. She has the advantage over other students that are not taking extra college classes because she knows what to expect when she gets to college. One of the main concerns for her is keeping up with her regular high school classes.

“You have to manage your time really well,” Brammer said. “For the online classes I took, you had a week to get a certain amount of assignments done, so you can not procrastinate.”

Also, keeping up with grades is something that Brammer seems to be handling well. “I am satisfied with the grades I’m maintaining. This year I took on a much lighter class load because I already have the credits I need, so a lot of my classes are electives, and I have two study halls, so I have opportunites to get my class work done at school.”

Brammer plans on taking more online college classes this fall. She is going to take a C++ course for an advanced computer language program that focuses on hardware and operating systems. This course is offered through Iowa Community College, along with a Calculus II class that she’ll take, which is based on physics. Christina will also be taking a college Geography class later this semester which will meet the requirements for Iowa’s standards in Social Studies. All of these classes are very advanced and will challenge Brammer to work her hardest to accomplish her goal of being prepared and ready for her engineering career.

Michael has always been active and involved in his children’s education and also in the education opportunities in the state. “The Iowa Community College Consortium is not well publicized, but it is an excellent opportunity for high school students to gain college level credit without having the leave the CFHS campus during the school day,” he says. “ Access to UNI is also a great advantage for CFHS students.”

Only time will tell what’s ahead for Christina, but she’s definitely prepared for what her future will bring.

-by Karly Izer

Last year’s seniors share what it is like to be students at Hawkeye Community College and the University of Northern Iowa. They compare the differences from high school and what it is like to live independently for the first time in their lives.

The CFHS class of 2012 has graduated and moved on from high school to different colleges around the state and country. Some close by graduates shared how their school year is going, why they chose the college they chose and more.

The students had many reasons why they picked the colleges they now attend. “I chose UNI because it is a great school, and I’m still close to home,” 2012 graduate Maddie Gary said. Another 2012 grad, Paige Miller, chose Hawkeye Community College. “I chose Hawkeye because I thought it would be a good transition out of high school for me, and it’s close to home. Also, it’s cheap, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in, so I am just getting my liberal arts done then will figure it out,” Miller said. Jake Bermal, also a 2012 graduate, chose the University of Northern Iowa for his education. “I mainly chose UNI because of the golf program,” Bermal said.

These students have moved out of their parents’ homes and are now experiencing living on their own.  “I live in a dorm on campus. It’s weird living on my own, but I like it,” Gary said. Miller and Bermal also live in dorms. “I go to Hawkeye and live in the Towers at UNI. I wanted to stay close to home but still get the dorm experience. I love it,” Miller said. “I live in the dorms at UNI. The only negative is having to do my own laundry,” Bermal said.

College life is much different than high school life. “I miss Friday night football games and being around people I’ve grown up with my entire life. I miss being with all of my friends all the time. I love the independence and free time that I have in college,” Gary said. Miller also misses football games and powderpuff. “People always say live up your high school years and that is so true. They go by fast,” Miller said. “I definitely miss all my friends. In college you have a lot more free time to do your homework because you get to schedule your classes,” Bermal said.

The classroom environment and teachers are not the same in college as they are in high school. “The teachers here expect you to be on top of everything, and they don’t really reach out to you if you’re struggling. You have to make the first move. Some professors here don’t even tell you when you have assignments. You have to look at the syllabus,” Gary said. “At Hawkeye my classes are similar to high school. I have 15-20 kids in all my classes, but you have a big range of age difference, which is kind of weird, but it doesn’t bother me at all,” Miller said. “The teachers in college are not as interactive with the students. Mostly we just get a lot of lectures and hardly any classroom participation,” Bermal said.

For seniors making major decisions about college, these three graduates have some tips from personal experience. “Advice I have to seniors would be look into a lot of different colleges and don’t be too quick to make your decision,” Gary said. “If you don’t know what your major is I believe that a community college is the way to go. It’s a lot cheaper too,” Miller said. “You should go on a lot of college visits. You always want to check out the campus and see what the school is all about so you know for sure which college is right for you,” Bermal said.

-by Lauren Nickerson

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