Monte’kis Jones is a young college graduate who is gainfully employed as a financial analyst, but he wasn’t always so certain of his goals and the pathway to achieving them.
Through his experience as a student at Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School, he was not only able to achieve his associate degree at an accelerated pace for free; he was also afforded the opportunity to explore a variety of career fields and different avenues to achieving success.
“Polk State’s collegiate program is the perfect opportunity,” Jones said. “It not only saves students money, but it also allows them to experiment with trying new things which would have cost me more time and more money at a university. Being able to test the waters in high school put me on a fast track to a rewarding career.”
“Polk State’s collegiate program is the perfect opportunity. It not only saves students money, but it also allows them to experiment with trying new things which would have cost me more time and more money at a university.”
Jones started his high school journey at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy. At the time, he was interested in becoming a pilot. But like many young students, Jones’s interests changed, and he jumped at the opportunity to enroll at Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School to try something new.
While at Lakeland Collegiate, he participated in the National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, and the Student Activities Board, giving him exposure to a diversity of people and resources.
Polk State’s three collegiate high schools serve 11th and 12th graders in fulfilling requirements for their high school diplomas while simultaneously completing college courses. The majority of students, like Jones when he graduated in 2016, achieve their Polk State Associate in Arts degrees along with their high school diplomas.
The most recent class of 2020 achieved a 100 percent graduation rate, with nearly 73 percent of graduates receiving their college degrees. Students earned, on average, 61 college credits and earned more than $6.1 million in scholarships to continue their education at institutions including Polk State, Florida universities and private colleges, Michigan State University, University of Chicago, University of Oklahoma, and more.
Jones received a full-ride scholarship to Florida State University through the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE), which provides access to traditionally underrepresented students disadvantaged by virtue of educational and socioeconomic factors.
Jones graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and general business, although he admitted that he switched majors a handful of times – from biochemistry to psychology, then to hospitality before landing on his ultimate choice to pursue a career in finance.
“What I figured out about myself is that I enjoy researching and I appreciate working with numbers,” he said. “Without Collegiate, I think I would still be on autopilot. At Polk State, I was able to learn some things that were for me and some things that weren’t for me.”
“Then I had to learn more things that weren’t for me,” he joked. “My advice to students is to be adaptive, open to change, and focused on what is best for you and your success.”
For Jones, that was Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School, which laid a strong foundation for success in his baccalaureate degree program and current career as a financial analyst.
“Collegiate has the resources, connections, and support system in place to help get you to where you are going,” Jones said. “This guidance allowed me to figure out my path and got me to where I am today.”
Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School and Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School will host information sessions in February for students interested in attending for the 2021-2022 Academic Year. More information is available here: www.polk.edu/news/polk-state-collegiate-high-schools-will-hold-info-sessions-in-february.