Sixty-One High School Students Earn Their DMACC Associates Degree Before Their High School Diploma

Posted 6/1/2022

​​DMACC’s Career Advantage Program serves over 17,000 High School Students Annually

  • “DMACC has made a Concerted Effort to Work with Schools to Communicate the Advantages of Earning an Associates Degree” said Michael Lentsch

  • High School Students have the Option of Taking Classes in their Home High School, Online or May Attend One of DMACC’s Seven Career Academies

  • Serena Iske of Des Moines, Jocelyn Bice of Norwalk and Myah Shipley of Pleasant Hill are three of the High School Students to Earn a DMACC Degree While Still in High School

A total of 61 Iowa high school students have earned a DMACC degree before receiving their high school diploma this year. Two years ago, about half of that many students earned their DMACC degree before dawning their high school cap and gown for their traditional high school commencement. Students receiving an Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) degree have earned at least 64 college credits over their high school career.

“Last year, 57 received their DMACC Associates Degree so the number has been trending up in recent years,” Michael Lentsch, Director of DMACC’s Career Advantage Enrollment Services, said. “DMACC has made a concerted effort to work with schools to communicate the advantages of earning an Associates Degree and has laid out a plan with students from each school district to make this happen.”

Lentsch said DMACC’s Career Advantage Program​ serves over 17,000 high school students annually in the Central and West Central Iowa district that DMACC serves. He said students have the option of taking classes in their home high school, online or may attend one of DMACC’s seven Career Academies.

“A majority of the coursework takes place in the high school taught by DMACC certified instructors,” Lentsch said. “Many students do need to add in a few DMACC online courses to meet all of the requirements for the degree.”

Lentsch said at most high schools, the Advanced Placement courses and DMACC courses are blended together, giving students the opportunity to earn college credit but also to test and earn AP credit, if desired.

Serena Iske (above, left) of Des Moines is one of the ambitious 61 Iowa high school students who has earned her DMACC degree before her high school diploma, which she will receive from Southeast Polk High School later this month.

She said she started taking DMACC classes during her sophomore year of high school, generally taking one or two DMACC classes each semester.

“It was definitely a struggle to handle all of my classes, but I would get my school work done during the school day and my DMACC classes done at night,” Iske said. “By doing this, I could keep a system going and free a few days for extra work in either high school or DMACC classes.”

Iske said she took the DMACC classes both at the high school and online, earning her DMACC Associate of Arts Degree.

Lentsch said students like Iske are saving lots of money in tuition expenses.

“The savings really depend on the four-year college or university that they plan to attend and the cost of attending that institution. It also depends on the major they are choosing,” Lentsch said.

He said high school students coming in with college credits or an AA or AS degree has increased in the past 10 years.

“These are very talented students that every college is pursuing and the benefit of the DMACC Associate’s Degree is that it generally transfers in as a package, versus a college evaluating how each course will individually transfer,” Lentsch said. “I know of a former student who completed her Associates at DMACC in high school and four years later is graduating with her Master’s Degree so that university was able to keep her four years.”

“My future plans are to go to Drake University to study pre-medicine and health sciences. After that, I will go to med school to pursue a career in healthcare,” Iske said.

Jocelyn Bice (above, center) of Norwalk started taking DMACC classes during the spring of her freshman year of high school culminating with a Liberal Arts Degree from DMACC awarded to her this semester.

Bice said she took two online classes per semester and an average of two to three in-person classes each semester throughout her high school career.

“I was able to juggle high school classes, my A.A. degree and extracurricular activities by prioritizing assignments based on their deadlines and deciding when I needed to get work done and when it was okay to hang out with friends and have fun,” Bice said.

She was a four-year participant in high school basketball and soccer and was named All-Conference, All-Region and All-District in basketball and All-Conference, All-Region, All District, All Tournament Team and All State in soccer.

Bice said she will attend Iowa State University in the fall to study Biomedical Engineering and play soccer.

Myah Shipley (above, right) of Pleasant Hill is another high school student who earned her DMACC degree a couple of weeks before her high school diploma.

Shipley said she started taking DMACC classes during the second semester of her freshman year at Southeast Polk High School, initially taking one course per semester but then upped it to two classes per semester.

“I never took a class on a DMACC campus,” Shipley said. “All of them were either online or dual enrollment at my high school.”

She said she when she started taking the DMACC classes, she didn’t know what she wanted to do after college so she just worked on getting her general education courses done.

“Juggling everything was sometimes pretty hard to be completely honest,” Shipley said. “It took a lot of hard work and time management. I just made a schedule that at a certain time every night I would work on my DMACC classes. This helped me stay on track.”

Shipley is active in numerous activities at her high school, including varsity volleyball and various clubs such as Best Buddies, Environmental Science Club and National Honors Society.

Shipley said she will be attending Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids in the fall and playing volleyball. She will be majoring in political science with minors in pre-law and Spanish and then hopes to attend law school at Drake University.

DMACC’s Lentsch said all of the students receiving a DMACC degree, certificate or diploma will be awarded a special honor cord to wear in their high school commencement ceremony to note the special distinction.

He said that DMACC had 405 high school students who earned some type of DMACC Degree, Certificate or Diploma in programs such as Nurse Aid, Welding or Emergency Medical Technician. He said there were 52 high schools in the DMACC district with students earning credentials.

For more information, contact: Michael Lentsch, (515) 965-7086

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