The benefits of a challenge
Student of the Week: Audrey Rodriguez
Now that I'm a senior, I'm looking at all the prices and costs of a bachelor’s degree. I'm so glad that I have these two years’ worth of college credits because of the financial help it offers.
Audrey Rodriguez enrolled in the South Texas College Dual Credit program knowing she wanted a chance to challenge herself and gain college experience. What she wasn’t expecting was the new sense of independence she’d find, as well.
Rodriguez, a senior at Mercedes Early College Academy, will earn an associate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies this spring from STC as a dual credit student.
The STC Dual Credit program provides the opportunity for eligible high school students from participating school districts to enroll in college courses.
Rodriguez began her Dual Credit classes during her freshman year of high school. But, she and her classmates faced the unexpected challenge of switching from in-person classes to online due to Covid-19. Rodriguez said, looking back, she is grateful for the work the STC faculty did to make her feel comfortable and confident in online education.
“We started online, which was different, but the professors were encouraging and knew we were all transitioning to online,” Rodriguez said. “They were really helpful and gave us the all resources that we needed. Everything we would have in a normal classroom, we had at home, also.”
Rodriguez said when she was able to take in-person classes at the STC Mid-Valley campus, she was excited to experience the switch from a high school environment to a college setting.
“I definitely like attending classes at the actual campus,” Rodriguez said. “It offers more freedom than a regular high school classroom. I also met way different people than I would have just taking high school courses.”
Rodriguez said she was also motivated to earn college credits as a high school student because she knew it would save her family money.
STC’s Dual Credit program has saved students and their families from its 21 participating school districts more than $34 million.
“Now that I'm a senior, I'm looking at all the prices and costs of a bachelor’s degree,” Rodriguez said. “I'm so glad that I have these two years’ worth of college credits because of the financial help it offers.”
Aside from balancing her college and high school work, Rodriguez also takes part in extracurricular activities at her high school. She serves as the vice-president of her National Honor Society chapter and also played volleyball. She said she learned to accomplish it all through time management and self-motivation.
“Even though it may seem difficult at first, you get used to the classes,” Rodriguez said. “I felt it was hard to switch from face-to-face to online and then back to face-to-face. It was definitely a lot, but I learned it’s all manageable as long as you’re able to communicate with your professors and make sure you get all of your work done on time.”
Rodriguez intends to major in business and will enroll at Texas State University in San Marcos this fall.
“I also talked to people at STC about possible majors and they really encouraged me to go for what I wanted to do,” Rodriguez said. “I appreciated that kind of support, and thankfully a lot of the credits I’ve earned transfer over so it helps a lot.”
Rodriguez said she had never visited STC until she began her classes, and was excited to see the vibrant student life and activities. The experience has inspired Rodriguez to carry that energy with her at the university level.
“I definitely want to be involved with campus activities because I always see the students involved at STC and I want to be like that,” Rodriguez said. “They do a lot of activities for students. It’s a great balance between schoolwork and time to de-stress.”
Rodriguez encourages students who are interested in the Dual Credit program to consider the benefits of a higher education, like future job opportunities, but to also know the program is the chance to grow in a supportive and challenging environment.
“I would tell students that this is the chance to not just take the basic road,” Rodriguez said. “You want to challenge yourself, as an individual and a student. And, I have an idea of what my future's going to look like in college."