Aliyah Burton, a liberal arts major, began her college experience in College Credit Plus (CCP) classes and soared from there. “My family heard about the CCP option while I was in high school, and we ultimately decided on NC State College because it was close to home, had a lot of options for classes and career paths, and we like the possibility of being able to finish my associate degree through Tuition Freedom after high school.” She completed 20 credit hours of college while still in high school through CCP, which allowed her to qualify for TFS. By doing so she has been able to complete credits toward her bachelor’s degree tuition-free.
Burton comes from a family of 13 kids and her decision to attend North Central State College has positively impacted her family. “We have to be creative about the ways we can make higher education work while making sense financially,” she explains. “NC State has been incredible, and the scholarships they offer have been very helpful as I have made decisions for my future.”
Three of Burton’s younger siblings have now been able to take on-campus classes through CCP. She says that having the college-level work in high school has set them up for success in a unique way. “They each have a different path than me, meaning that they might not all transfer to another school or pursue a career like me. But that is the best part about North Central – it is an option that sets all my siblings, with their unique passions and career plans, on the path leading towards excellence and success.” She has even been able to take a few classes with her sister, Sarah.
Burton says her instructors through the CCP program have been outstanding. “I appreciate the way instructors have recognized the position of high school students, while still having college-level expectations from them and wanting to excel,” Burton explains. She says her English Composition classes were the most effective classes she took in preparing her for future college courses. “Beth Franz and Scott Smith both taught me writing skills that will never be irrelevant in the world of higher education. I also loved the element of researching and analyzing information for those classes.”
She says NC State is the reason she is now able to transfer to a 4-year university to finish her bachelor’s degree debt-free with honors. “It was an extremely affordable option for me, but beyond financial benefits, the ability to participate in the Honors College and establish relationships with students on campus was invaluable,” Burton says. Not only is she part of the Honors College but also Phi Theta Kappa and has worked as a tutor at the Tutoring Center.
For those still looking toward their future goals, Burton says she would encourage others to look at North Central as an important part of their career path, not just their educational path. “Whatever your future goal may be, I am confident North Central has an option that would be a good fit for their path. For me, it was the first half of my bachelor’s degree and experiences that were invaluable to my career,” she explains. “For others, (NC State) offers all-inclusive degrees that can send students directly into the workplace. Keeping a future-oriented mindset was helpful for me, and the advisors are excellent in keeping students’ future hopes and goals as the priority.”
“I loved my time at North Central State, and a good part of that was due to the open attitude I had towards growth and learning; this gave me good relationships with my instructors and other students. Mindset is everything! My final encouragement would be, go for it!”
After graduation, Burton plans on transferring to Liberty University in Virginia to complete her bachelor’s degree in strategic communication.