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Lucas Roberts gets ahead of the college game
Lucas Roberts was ahead of the game: He had finished all his high school requirements, save for one English class, by the end of his junior year at Twinfield Union High School. Still, when his VSAC counselor told him about the Early College Plus program, which allows high school seniors to take their first year of college tuition-free at CCV, plus earn a work-ready certificate in a chosen field of study, also tuition-free, Lucas hesitated.
“I assumed that meant I wouldn’t be in high school anymore, and I wouldn’t be able to play sports,” said the double-varsity athlete, who’s been a passionate teammate and leader on the soccer field and basketball court since he was in kindergarten. Once Lucas was assured he could still play, he was sold.
“I didn’t want to go to high school just for one class, so I applied to Early College and got in. I’ve been doing the Cybersecurity Fundamentals certificate program, and I really like it.” So far, Lucas says he’s learned a lot about network security, and it’s been a good introduction to the college experience. Taking college-level computer classes at the Community College of Vermont has also helped him understand the major more. “The cyber field is a path I may want to pursue.”
Since his freshman year, Lucas has worked with VSAC Talent Search counselor Lindsay Carpenter. Lindsay says she’s excited that Lucas decided to go for Early College Plus. “He’s taking advantage of something that’s not only giving him college experience but will also earn him a credential he could use after high school graduation, and maybe even during his undergraduate years, to get a good job,” she says.
“People have told me that after I complete this certificate, I could start to get job offers,” Lucas says, but he doesn’t want to enter the workforce right away. “I want to get my bachelor’s degree. It takes time to learn everything I feel I should know.”
Lucas thanks his parents for encouraging him to go on to college and for suggesting that he pursue cybersecurity. “They knew I was interested in computers, and they told me to think about cybersecurity, since there’s a shortage of people entering that field. I guess they see I’m a hard worker, and they think it might be a good moneymaker and a good fit.”
His dad, who works at Adams Granite in Barre, didn’t go to college, a fact he’s told Lucas he kind of regrets, so he encouraged all his children to go. While Lucas — who is 10 years younger than his four older siblings — vaguely remembers visiting his sister on the Keene State campus years ago, their distant experiences didn’t really inform Lucas’ own journey, so he was glad to have VSAC for guidance and support.
His freshman year, Lucas started attending meetings for the Talent Search program, even though they were more focused on the upperclassmen. Still, Lindsay recalls how motivated he was from the beginning. “Lucas has taken advantage of every opportunity Talent Search has provided him. He’s been excited to explore his college options since freshman year, and he was eager to learn everything there was to know about the college application process.”
At the start of his junior year, Lucas started working in earnest on the college research process, and he took a systematic approach, starting with a wide Internet search for New England colleges, eventually narrowing his list down to five or six schools.
“Lindsay helped me a lot with college searching, with my essay, and with the Common App,” he says. “It feels like it’s just me working with her.”
He also credits VSAC for working with his parents on the FAFSA form. “The last time they did those financial filings for my siblings was 10 years ago, so they appreciated the guidance.”
He’s already been accepted to two schools, Husson University and Xavier University, which were among his top choices.
While Lucas is already a college student, thanks to Early College Plus, he still looks forward to the “full college experience” over the next four years, when, he hopes, classes will be in-person. Historically shy, Lucas is eager to meet new people, as well as to hear more of his peers’ perspectives in class. “With online classes, it’s almost all coming from the teacher,” he notes.
And, of course, he’s also thinking about playing one or both of his sports on a college team, but he plans to wait and see how he can best balance sports with schoolwork.
“I like schoolwork, and I like learning. I guess that’s why I want to go on to college for four more years,” he laughs.
ABOUT EARLY COLLEGE PLUS
Early College Plus, which takes the traditional Early College program and adds some valuable enhancements, was launched in 2021 to give COVID-affected high school students a chance to get a jumpstart on college.
All Vermont students can consider Early College at one of six Vermont institutions: CCV, VTSU, Goddard, Norwich, and VTC/Vast. Early College students get to finish high school, complete one year of college, and access extra college and career planning resources, all tuition-free, and all in one year.
The “Plus” part of the Early College program is offered just at CCV. Early College Plus was funded by the Vermont Community Foundation and adds another layer of benefits: a work-ready certificate in one of three designated programs — Cybersecurity, IT, or Graphic Design — plus an additional stipend for books and technology expenses. Students in CCVs EC Plus program are also assigned a VSAC counselor to support them in navigating Early College Plus, and in their transition to college or career after the program is complete. Starting in 2022 the program is adding two more fields to EC+: Childcare and Digital Media Production.
Current high school juniors who are interested in Early College Plus for the 2022–2023 academic year should visit gotocollegevt.org for more information or to apply. Applications are available now, and the final deadline is in August.
For information on college and career planning and help with financial aid, go to www.vsac.org/FAFSAfirst and check out our online workshops and events. You can also give us a call at 800-642-3177, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and online at email@example.com.