Albemarle County Public Schools are partnering with Piedmont Virginia Community College to help high school students save time and a lot of money.
The program will have some students leaving high school with a college degree. Some will be graduating high school with an associate degree.
The program is actually molded after courses currently taken by one of Albemarle High School's students.
Albemarle high student Andrea Mendoza is taking her education to another level.
"I've been taking high school classes ever since middle school and just kind of getting ahead so it only made sense to go ahead and do some college classes," Mendoza said.
Combining dual enrollment classes with classes at PVCC will allow the junior to graduate next year with 60 credits, enough to give her junior status at a four-year college.
"[High school] really is four years that you can make the best out of," Mendoza said.
Legislation passed in 2012 requires Virginia schools to partner with area community colleges. The partnership with PVCC that kicks off in August is modeled after Mendoza's path.
"This is a formalized program that we can put in front of parents and students and say, ‘Here's your pathway. Here's your pathway to the four-year degree,'" said John Donnelly, vice president of instruction and student services for PVCC.
The program will also potentially save students from financial woes that go hand in hand with college loans. The program costs students $2,000 while earning an associate degree directly through PVCC costs around $8,000. And it saves tens of thousands of dollars compared to the first two years at a four-year college.
Participating students will have a general studies degree, but they have the option to choose their own path.
"If students are interested in other pathways, we will individualize these plans as we're able," said Chad Ratliff, associate director of instructional programs for Albemarle schools.
The collaborations are statewide, which means Charlottesville high schools are also partnering with PVCC. School administrators say anyone who is interested should contact their guidance counselor.