OHIO– Finishing a Bachelors Degree isn't always the easiest thing to do. But one Ohio high school student is set to do that soon. 16-year-old Jessica Nichols has always been a student that excelled in school. She was the youngest person to graduate from Lakeland Community College with an Associates Degree. With her senior year in sight, she may make history again.
Just about every day of the week, Jessica Nichols of Medina puts in about 5-7 hours a day online, studying and getting school work done. She says, "It's basically like a part-time job."
On double duty, the high school senior also manages to squeeze in college courses. She's been doing that since the age of 12 through College Credit Plus. "The concept of CCP appealed to me so much because I did want to be challenged more and I was especially really excited at the possibility of...that I could study English and that I could study writing."
Winning a writing award recently, Nichols says she's always been ahead of the class since she can remember." I was finishing all my school work in like two hours a day."
So far, her hard work has paid off, making her the youngest to graduate from Lakeland Community College at the age of 15. She's still in high school at Ohio Connections Academy, but now she attends Cleveland State University too. With her sights set on finishing a Bachelors, she may complete it before she reaches the age of 20. "I will have all of my gen eds, and a lot of my elective finished for my Bachelor's degree. So, I should finish my Bachelor's degree within a year or two after graduating from high school."
Nichols credits her online education, support from her parents and teachers for much of her success. "My teachers have been so important and influential, that's why I want to teach like as a college professor." She wants to be a creative writing professor.
Nichols is just one example of why Ohio Connections Academy Superintendent Marie Hanna says the school works.
"We really are meeting a need for kids who excel, and in some cases really need to be here, because they have health concerns or because they're being bullied."
But while they're focused on the academics and following state standards, teachers like Mindy Pyle say it's about building relationships. "They realize hey I can just call my teacher and work with them one on one any time I need help, and that's really beneficial for those students."
And it's because of those relationships, and her determination, and discipline that Jessica Nichols is well on her way to finishing her Bachelor's degree. She says, "I can't imagine doing anything else."
Jessica expects to graduate from high school with honors in 2020. Just in case you're wondering, she does find time to hang out with friends and watch anime movies. When not doing that, she's writing for Cleveland State University's arts and culture magazine. She says, she hopes to finish her first draft of a novel soon, earn a Master of Fine Arts, and a Ph.D.