"It's a faster way to get those hours out of the way and you learn more experience of how college is going to be," said Cassandra Maturino, Carthage High School.
She is 1 of more than 350 students at Carthage High School enrolled in a dual credit course. They're classes that count toward a high school diploma and a college degree.
"They have a lot of students here in the school district that are challenging the curriculum and they want to meet the needs of those students," said Dr. Glenn Coltharp, VP Academic Affairs, Crowder College.
Today leaders with both the high school and Crowder College announced a new partnership that will challenge students even more. Starting in August, students will have the opportunity to work toward an associate's degree, and more dual credit courses will be offered.
"Student could start off going into their junior year, work on their dual credit program and graduate from high school with a high school diploma and associates degree," states Dr. Coltharp.
Carthage High School Principal Kandy Frazier says this will allow the district to look beyond 12th grade.
"When Crowder was interested in coming to Carthage, we thought this could be a K-14 issue and really maximize the time spent in high school," states Kandy Frazier, Carthage High School, Principal.
School leaders say the degree option gives students more of an opportunity to get ahead.
"Even if they don't get the associates degree, any dual credit they get puts them one step higher to where they need to be," said Frazier.
It's something Maturino wishes she could have done.
"If you have that strength to be in all those dual credit classes for college and you want to graduate faster, you can just graduate with your associate's degree and you're ahead in college," said Maturino.
School leaders say another benefit to the partnership is the cost savings for students. The dual credit courses are at a lower rate per credit hour.