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Graduation Twice as Nice for Lauren Starling

Lauren StarlingFor as long as she can remember, Winterville’s Lauren Starling has wanted to become a second-grade teacher. And by the time she reached 17 years old, she was already well on her way toward achieving that goal, having completed the first two years of a college education while she was finishing up high school.

Through Pitt Community College’s concurrent enrollment program, Starling earned an associate degree in University Transfer at roughly the same time she accepted her diploma from South Central High School in Winterville.

As a result of her hard work and dedication, Starling planned to enroll at East Carolina University—just months after her high school graduation—as a junior in pursuit of a master’s degree in education.

Starling said she enjoyed taking classes at PCC and the added responsibility that went along with them. She said she kept a calendar specifically for her college assignments and would mark test days and paper and project due dates at the beginning of each semester.

“Each weekend, I would take a look at (the calendar) and see what was due the following week,” Starling said. “Therefore, I could get the assignments done and submitted.”

In her final semester at PCC, Starling took a night class and three online courses. She also managed to squeeze in a biology class at Craven Community College in addition to her normal high school studies.

Lauren Starling and PCC President G. Dennis Massey“I feel that when you are given an opportunity to learn and to grow, why not take advantage of it?” Starling said, adding that taking college and high school courses at the same time helped her develop time management skills.

Each year, more and more Pitt County high school students like Starling realize the benefits of starting college early. Through concurrent enrollment, they get ahead in higher education and save money at the same time, since the classes are offered tuition-free.

Starling said concurrent enrollment gave her a taste of what college classes would be like before actually entering college full-time.

“It allows a person to learn how to be independent, school-wise,” she said. “It helps a person plan effectively and efficiently. It also allows the student to get a jump start on college credit. It also allows you to meet new people who, in some cases, might turn out to be your new best friend.”

Concurrent enrollment at Pitt is available to high school students age 16 and older who want to start college while they are still in high school. So long as the students are making appropriate progress toward high school graduation and receive permission from their respective high schools, they are eligible to enroll.