Scholars Academy students get a head start on college and career

Ninety-nine percent of Chapman students are taking classes in order to earn their high school diploma. The other one percent, however, are taking courses that will earn them not only their diploma, but an additional associate’s degree that will give them a jump start in college.

These students are members of the Scholars Academy, a program that allows students to take classes at USC Upstate for all four years of high school, earning both high school and college credit.

Senior Thomas Lee is a member of this program and is the only Chapman Scholars Academy student in the class of 2023. Although it was a tough decision, he joined Scholars Academy to be as prepared as possible for college and his future career.

“I liked the idea of being able to explore my interests with the variety of classes available at Scholars,” Lee said.  “In eighth grade, my hope was to take advantage of the classes available through Scholars to help me figure out what to do in a career.”

For freshman Jillian West, the program was a way to start her college journey and a way to ensure a wide class variety for all four years of high school.

“It was a great opportunity for me because in high school, you can take all of these AP classes, but then at some point you don’t have any more classes to take,” West said. “At the Scholars Academy, you can finish out your high school career, but then you also get part of college done.”

According to West and Lee, Scholars Academy students begin by taking courses that will fulfill high school graduation requirements.

“At the moment, I’m kind of doing more high school classes, except for my history and math,” West said. “Later, whenever I finally get to choose my classes, they’re going to be actually college-level classes, which is how I get part of college out of the way.”

However, as students progress through the program, their schedule looks more and more like one of a traditional college student.

“Now that we’re seniors, everyone is taking classes they’re interested in,” Lee said. “For example, I’m taking Elementary Differential Equations for engineering. Other classes that my Scholars friends are taking include Organic Chemistry,  Linear Algebra, History of the Soviet Union, Intro to Political Science, Macroeconomics, German, Sign Language, Genetics and Cognitive Psychology.”

Despite the extremely rigorous academic workload, it isn’t all school work all the time. Scholars students can participate in sports, fine arts, and other extracurriculars at their high school, and they find time for fun in special Scholars activities as well.

“I think ‘Free Day’ will always go down as a magical day to freshmen, since nothing is better than getting trinkets from random companies on the second week of school,” Lee said. “However, more seriously, I’ve enjoyed taking part in several study sessions at Scholars. Besides helping my grades, I’ve gotten to know other scholars better through them.”

West specifically enjoyed Volunteer Day, where she spent the day at HALTER, an equine therapy center in Spartanburg.

“I love Volunteer Day,” West said. “We had the day off from Scholars Academy, and I got to volunteer at HALTER, and it was just really fun even though I was pulling weeds the entire time.”

Now that he can look back on his time at the Scholars Academy, Lee views it as a success. He joined Scholars to be ready for college and his future career, and that is exactly what he accomplished.

“Despite the hard work it requires at times, I believe I’m more prepared for college,” Lee said. “In addition to taking college classes, I’ve also been taught how to manage my time and develop study habits so I can be more successful in college. I think the Scholars Academy has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”