INA, Ill. (June 14, 2022) — It takes an incredible amount of determination and perseverance to earn a college degree while in high school. Still, Morgan Young (Benton), Alexis Degler (Pinckneyville), and Nathan Ragland (Waltonville) did just that.all three banner

(L-R) Morgan Young (Benton) and her father, Jeremy Young - Lori Ragland, Vice President of Instruction and Student Affairs, and Nathan Ragland(Waltonville) - Alexis Degler (Pinckneyville). 
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When the pandemic altered the educational landscape in 2020, three local high school students decided that they would put their time management skills to the test and earn their college degrees early. Young, Degler, and Ragland got a jumpstart on their education by taking advantage of Rend Lake College's Dual Credit and Dual Enrollment programs. 

Dual credit courses allow students to take high school and college courses at the same time, and get credit that counts at both schools. Tuition is waived for these college transfer and career courses. The Dual Enrollment program at RLC gives individuals an opportunity to take classes at a time that works with their schedules. Dual-enrollment students can look forward to deeply discounted tuition rates while earning their degrees. Learn more about dual credit and dual enrollment here.

Meet the Graduates

 Morgan Young - Benton, Illinois

558A5620Morgan Young, of Benton, with her Father, Jeremy Young, at Rend Lake College's Commencement Ceremony.
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Morgan graduated from RLC at the 1:00 pm commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 14th. Just 3 hours later, she was crossing the stage at Benton Consolidated High School.

"I started right as I was turning 16. It was a lot of work but well worth it," Young said. "Looking back, I developed time management skills that helped me along the way." 

Young graduated from RLC with two degrees. She earned her Associate of Arts and Associates of Applied Science.

"I hope to go to SIU in the fall to get my bachelor's degree in Agricultural Business. I love agriculture, so I know that degree will get me in the right direction." 

Morgan Young

Morgan Young poses for a photo with her parents, Miranda and Jeremy, at the May 14 Benton High School Graduation — just hours after graduating from Rend Lake College with two associate degrees. 
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"I came to Rend Lake unsure of what to expect, but the staff and teachers were very helpful in making it a smooth addition to my schedule," Young explained. "The evening and online classes were challenging, but I could tell I was working at the next level and prepared for SIU."

She competed in Future Farmer's of America competitions while attending RLC. Her advice to potential dual enrollment students: "It will be difficult. I was constantly busy. But it will be worth it."


Alexis Degler - Pinckneyville, Illinois

Screenshot 2022 06 14 093155Alexis Degler (Pinckneyville) displays her Rend Lake College diploma on May 14.
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Alexis Degler graduated from Rend Lake College on May 14, a week before she graduated from Pinckneyville High School. Degler graduated high school with Summa Cum Laude honors by earning a 4.0 GPA throughout high school. In the fall and spring semesters of her senior year, she was awarded a spot on RLC's Vice President's List for achieving a 3.50 – 3.99 GPA. 

"The journey of being a high school and college student at the same time for two years was time-consuming but rewarding," Degler stated. "I started this journey in the summer of 2020. With extra time from COVID-19 shutdowns, I decided to try college classes online at Rend Lake College. I had just met the minimum requirements, so I took a leap and started three college classes online. I ended up falling in love with learning that summer. I decided to set the goal of obtaining enough credits to graduate college the same semester I planned to graduate high school. I have always been a go-getter, and I tend to despise being bored, so taking 73 credits of college during half of my high school career kept me busy."

Screenshot 2022 06 14 093440Alexis Degler graduating from Pinckneyville High School a week after graduating from Rend Lake College. 
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"I was involved in many extracurricular activities at PCHS, such as Youth and Government, MAPPS, Student Council, Beta Club, FBLA, Scholar Bowl, Concert Band, Music Makers, And Junior Class Congress," Degler added. "Some of the leadership positions I held were Student Council president my senior year, FBLA president during my junior and senior year, and class president during my freshman, sophomore, and junior years. Juggling school activities, academics, and a part-time management position was the most significant challenge I overcame during my journey. It was hard to figure out how to have a social life and family time on top of my educational activities. Thankfully, these struggles taught me time management, responsibility, and how to handle stressful situations."

Degler will continue her education at Southeast Missouri State University to complete her Bachelor of Business Administration degree and aims to finish with an MBA. She stated, "I feel the opportunity to receive affordable and flexible college classes at Rend Lake College has propelled me and truly prepared me for my future career."


Nathan Ragland - Waltonville, Illinois

558A5560Nathan Ragland of Waltonville is handed his diploma by his mother, Rend Lake College Vice President of Instruction & Student Affairs Lori Ragland. 
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Nathan Ragland (Waltonville) graduated May 14 from RLC with an Associate of Arts and an Associate of Science degree. Ragland took advantage of the dual credit classes offered at Waltonville High School. "I was able to take trigonometry and calculus during my junior year. I was fortunate to have Jeff Keen as my instructor. He was able to help me through the difficult portions to ensure that I succeeded," Ragland said. "Some of the most challenging aspects of completing these degrees while in high school is that I am also a three-sport athlete." Ragland explained that he worked very hard to manage his time while playing baseball, basketball, and football. He also stated that the support from his mother went a long way in learning valuable time-management skills. 

Screenshot 2022 06 14 094629Nathan Ragland (Waltonville) graduates from Waltonville High School after graduating from Rend Lake College with two Associate Degrees.
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Ragland's next step is Murray State University, where he will work towards his bachelor's degree in civil engineering. His advice to those thinking about dual enrollment is, "Go for it. You will be glad you did."


More about dual credit and dual enrollment

The cost of tuition is free for in-district high school students taking RLC dual credit classes. For in-district high school students taking dual enrollment classes, tuition up to eight hours per semester is half-cost, and full cost for additional hours. Students need to apply to RLC and receive permission from a high school official to enroll in classes. Fees and books are still the responsibility of the student. High school students wishing to take college classes through dual credit or dual enrollment must be junior or senior status or 16 years or older. To get started with dual credit and dual enrollment, contact your high school guidance counselor or the RLC Academic Advisement Center at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1266.


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