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Megan Hoadley

Megan Hoadley anticipates a lengthy — and pricey — road to becoming an attorney. So she decided to get a head start, and save big on tuition, by launching her college career while she was still a senior at Dublin Coffman High School.

A new state program makes it easier for Ohio students to get a jump start on a college degree or professional certification. Under the College Credit Plus initiative, Ohio school districts must offer dual credit classes for college-ready students in grades 7-12.

While her high school offers some college courses, Hoadley wanted a full load of Columbus State classes to save her time and money toward a bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University.

This year, she joined more than 80 area high school students who attend the college’s Columbus campus downtown full-time. Many of her Dublin peers questioned her decision, but she’s found her classes to be rewarding and challenging.

During the fall semester, was done by 1 p.m., giving her enough time to visit math tutoring labs before heading back to her home school for cross-country practices and other school activities.

“When I’m here for classes, I feel like a Columbus State student,” she said. “Then I go back home, hang out with friends, go to football games and feel like a high school student.”

This spring, Hoadley will graduate from Dublin Coffman with 43 college credits, enough to enter college as a second-year student. She plans to return to Columbus State in the fall for her associate degree, then transfer to Ohio State.

She has not looked back on her decision, especially after hearing from friends and family members in college. Each of their stories shared a common theme: Earning top marks in high school doesn’t mean you’re ready for college.

“A lot of them were getting to college and they were struggling,” she said.

And she recalled a conversation with her sister, a junior at Ohio State, who supported her path to a four-year degree.

“Looking back, she said she would have been better off to start at Columbus State,” Hoadley said. “It would have saved her money.”