By the time two soon-to-be Pella High School graduates step foot on a college campus this fall, they’ll do so with an associate’s degree.

Paighton Bogaards and Erica Nossaman both participated in a DMACC program aimed to give high school students a jump start when heading to college.

Nossaman, who plans to attend Iowa State this fall, tells KNIA/KRLS News she found out she was eligible for an associate’s degree before her senior year began, and now, she will be able to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in under three years–and she’ll cross the stage at high school commencement with a college diploma.

“I got a letter this summer that said I had so many credit hours from DMACC already that I should look into coming to DMACC next year,” she says. “But as I looked into it, I realized that I could get all the credits while still being in high school this year.”

“So I was able to take a lot of courses at Pella High, as well as some online courses which allowed me to get all the credits, and it’s definitely special for Pella because we just have amazing teachers who can teach us college credits, which can save us money and get us going for the college experience.”

Bogaards, who will be at the University of Iowa, says she won’t be able to finish school faster due to her plan to pursue a dental school graduate program, but instead, she will now be able to schedule more advanced coursework and be more involved in activities with a lighter credit load over the next four years. She will receive her associate’s degree in August.

“If you’re considering going into a health-related field that requires graduate school, it is likely that you’re not going to have a shorter time at college because, for example, the pre-dental prerequisites go year-by-year so you have to take so many prerequisite courses,” Bogaards says.

“So I will for sure have a lighter course load, not just less time.”

Hear more from Bogaards and Nossaman on today’s Let’s Talk Pella.