Seniors graduate with associate's degrees

Posted at 10:26 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 00:57:23-04
Savannah Willits is a graduating senior at Renaissance High School in Meridian, but unlike most people her age, she has already graduated with an associate's degree from Idaho State University.
"You go up into graduation, and you are surrounded by people many years older than you, you are in line with them, and you are getting the same degree," said Willits.
She was able to earn the degree through a partnership Renaissance High has with ISU to get kids ahead.
"It's a lot of extra work for them. They are expected to do the same amount of work they would do for a college course, and they are taking eight classes," said teacher Shawna Schneiderman.
Willits said she started taking college courses when she was just a freshman, and one of the major reasons behind her decision was money.
"It was one of the most important factors as financial freedom is a big deal to my family as well as to my future," explained Willits.
Tuition rates to state universities can be astronomical, but with this program, each credit is only 65 dollars.
Willits isn't the only one who's taken advantage of the low cost. 41 percent of her peers at Renaissance also graduated with a degree from ISU.
"It's a lot to ask of a high school student to do that. The ones that choose to do that are very committed, they know they are going to have to put in the time," said Schneiderman.
For those who are willing to dedicate themselves to it, they see rewards on they move on to a full-time college schedule.  
"We hear back from a lot of our students who have gone on to college that they are more prepared than their peers," said Schneiderman. 
Savannah said she is beyond excited to start BSU in the fall as a junior pursuing a material science and engineering degree. 
The program has been so successful West Ada plans on launching it at Eagle High next year.