The demand for classes at Southern State Community College’s Brown County campus in Mt. Orab is easy to see by looking at the parking lot.

“Our parking lot is completely full on Monday through Thursday from about 8 o’clock until 3 o’clock,” says J.R. Roush, dean of core studies and Brown County campus director/College Credit Plus director.

“And most of those students have not graduated from high school yet,” he says. That’s because the college’s College Credit Plus program, which allows high school students to take college classes, is so popular says Roush.

One of the reasons the program is so popular is because there’s no cost to take college classes and receive credit, he says.

“Imagine if your son graduated from high school with 30 semester hours,” Roush says. “That’s the equivalent of a year, so I always talk to parents in terms of a scholarship. That’s a $20,000 or $30,000 scholarship.”

Not only does the program allow students to receive college credit for free, it also allows students to get a jump on their college degree, says Roush. “We have several students who actually graduate from high school with an associate’s degree,” he says.

And even high school graduates who take college classes at Southern State Community College are getting a great deal compared to taking those same classes at a four-year institution, Roush says. The cost to attend Southern State Community College is about $4,000 per year, compared to nearly $20,000 at a four-year school, he says.

And many students don’t end up paying the entire $4,000 tuition, Roush says. That’s because about 95 percent of students receive financial aid. “It’s rare to find someone who would pay that full tuition,” says Roush.

Not only is tuition affordable, but Southern State Community College’s Brown County campus is easily accessible to most of its students who live in Brown, Adams, Clermont and Highland counties. “Our geographical location makes it pretty hard for us to miss right here on [state Route] 32 in Mt. Orab,” says Roush.

Just because tuition isn’t as expensive as a four-year institution doesn’t mean the quality is any less at Southern State Community College, he says. The school offers a high-quality education, says Roush.

In addition, Southern State Community College is part of the Ohio Transfer Module, which means that the credit for core courses is guaranteed to transfer to any other Ohio state college.

“If they take college algebra here The Ohio State University, Shawnee, Cleveland State, Columbus State, all those institutions are part of the Ohio Transfer Module and those courses have been written so that they transfer automatically,” he says.

Because of Southern State Community College’s partnerships with other state colleges students can even earn their bachelor’s degree without having to travel or live at a four-year institution, he says.

“Our engineering programs are all primarily located at the Hillsboro campus, but students can take the majority of their courses [at the Brown County campus] and then go some up to Hillsboro and they can actually finish the majority of their bachelor’s degree in engineering at the Hillsboro campus through Miami University,” says Roush.

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