July 11, 2024

Nikko Koukis knows a good deal when he sees one. He learned about the Early College program as a student at Portsmouth High School, and he quickly realized he could save money on his college education and save a lot of time, too.

“I could get college credit while taking high school classes. That seemed like a pretty sweet deal, and something I definitely wanted to take advantage of,” he said. “It helped me shave a year off my college education.”

Koukis, who graduated from high school in the spring, took advantage of the Early College at Your High School (formerly Running Start) program offered by Great Bay Community College and the Community College System of New Hampshire. It enables high school students to take community college courses for dual high school and college credit.

Courses offered through the Early College at Your High School program are college courses taught at high schools by teachers who have college-level teaching credentials and use a college syllabus and course materials. These courses are taken as part of the daily class schedule. High school students can earn as many as 12 credits per year toward their college degree.

“Through Early College, Great Bay offers the opportunity to get your education done in an efficient, cost-effective way. If I would have applied to a four-year program, that would have taken me more time and more money to do what I am doing right now. Because of Early College, I will be able to get my associate degree in one year.”

Koukis is enrolled in the Educator Preparation program at Great Bay, and he expects to graduate with his associate degree within a year. After that, he will transfer to a four-year school for his bachelor’s degree in education. This summer, he is working full time in his field at a childcare center and taking a psychology course at Great Bay. Among the courses he finished through Early College was one focused on early childhood development, which has served him well during his summer job.

Meanwhile, his summer job “is helping me get a jump start on next year and complete my associate degree within a year,” said Koukis, 18, of Rye. “It’s a really great deal.”

His goal is to teach history at the college level. “Education is my passion,” he said. “I love helping the next generation of learners move forward with their education and help them develop and learn about the world around them.”