Students with Polk State College’s three collegiate high schools started on August 1 and last week they went to their first college classes as the charter schools gear up for another successful year.
Polk State’s collegiate high schools allow students to simultaneously complete requirements for their high school diplomas while earning college credits. In most cases, students graduate with both their high school diplomas and Associate in Arts degrees at no cost to them.
Polk State News caught up with students and graduates from each collegiate high school to hear how the programs have provided them with quality education and flexibility in their schooling while allowing them to enjoy traditional high school activities and accelerate their success.
“I really wanted to go to Lakeland Collegiate because I knew it was the best for me financially and it could give me the opportunity to start college and start off on the right foot,” Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School student Gabriela Rodriguez said.
“You can genuinely start college, which is very original to the Polk State program,” added Isabella Angotti, a graduate of Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School who earned her Polk State Associate in Arts degree.
“One of the great things about collegiate is that you are not taken away from those high school experiences, they are just integrated,” Angotti said. “We still had prom, we still had homecoming, we still had fun events you could go to every day.”
“There’s also student leadership opportunities,” added Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School student Serena Thomas, “and outside of collegiate, I play lacrosse at my zoned school.”
Students and graduates echoed the convenience of attending a Polk State collegiate high school due to the flexibility in scheduling and the support they receive from their professors and staff.
“When you apply, you can look at different scheduled times, and pick and choose to your liking,” Polk State Lakeland Gateway to College Collegiate High School student Jadon Lowe explained.
“I’ve been holding down a job since before I was in collegiate and it’s a lot easier to manage now than in a traditional school platform because collegiate can work with my hours… and [it’s not a] traditional 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. schedule,” Rodriguez added.
They shared their appreciation for faculty and staff.
“One of my favorite things about collegiate is the staff,” said Rocio Gonzalez, a graduate of Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School. “They made sure that we knew that they were there to support and motivate us.”
“The faculty and staff are amazing,” Polk State Lakeland Gateway to College Collegiate High School student Le’Anthony Fleming said. “They’re always here for you to support you, help you, and guide you.”
“Collegiate is very preparatory in not only the way everything is structured but also in the way that your professors interact with you,” Rodriguez added. “It is a very professional setting where you are treated like an adult, and you are treated like a student. It prepares you for a world where you are going to be equals with other people.”
Of the 2022 graduating classes, 58% of students achieved their associate degrees and approximately $3.4 million was earned in scholarships. Graduates continue their education at Polk State, State University System institutions, and Ivy League schools.
For the 2021-2022 Academic Year, Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School and Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School received A grades, and Polk State Lakeland Gateway to College Collegiate High School achieved a Commendable school improvement rating, which it receives in place of a school grade due to differences in its mission and charter. Commendable is the highest rating.
More information about Polk State’s collegiate high schools is available online at polk.edu/charter-high-schools.