KOKOMO - When Annie Fulton graduated from Tipton High School last year, she was in what she called “the panic zone.”
Though her father lives in Indiana, her mother lives out of state, and she was having a hard time getting in-state tuition at local universities. Her panic subsided when a friend told her about the ASAP program at Ivy Tech Kokomo.
The ASAP program is an accelerated associate degree program that helps students straight out of high school earn their associate degrees in one year rather than the typical two. Students attend class every day, usually for around 40 hours a week, for the entire year. They switch classes every few months.
Fulton said when she heard about the program, she contacted the coordinator, Beth Chaney.
“Two or three days later, Beth was at Tipton, and she talked to me and definitely comforted me,” Fulton said. “Pretty much the thing that drew me in, not necessarily ASAP but Ivy Tech, she was like ‘Yeah, I can definitely help you,’ and it was pretty awesome.”
Fulton is one of 18 students graduating with Ivy Tech Kokomo’s second graduating ASAP class. The program is available at regional Ivy Tech campuses around the state.
The third cohort of ASAP students will start in June, and Chaney said they already have 27 students signed up; the program’s capacity is 30. Chaney said it’s possible some students could sign up last minute, which happened last year with Courtney McCloskey.
McCloskey graduated from Lewis Cass High School and wasn’t sure what her next step was. She heard about the ASAP program on June 3, and classes started June 6. With Chaney’s help, she was signed up and present for the first day of class. McCloskey graduates today with other Ivy Tech Kokomo students.
Damon Huntley is another student planning to graduate from the program’s second cohort, and he said he was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.
“I was lucky to get this opportunity to be in the program because I kind of slacked off in high school because I didn’t feel like doing it,” he said. “I made good enough grades to stay on the swim team, but I didn’t try very hard other than that.”
The draw for Huntley was ASAP’s ability to offer him a chance to knock out his prerequisite classes for a cheaper price than at other institutions, he said.
McCloskey said she’s also glad the program shortened the amount of time it would have taken to get her prerequisites out of the way, but the ASAP schedule was a drawback to the program. When she graduated from high school, she was hoping for a more flexible schedule, but she ended up in a program similar in some ways to a high school schedule.
“Coming out of high school, I was really tired of that 9 to 4 with the same people,” McCloskey said. “And it hasn’t changed with ASAP. It’s like high school condensed down to 18 people.”
On the other hand, Huntley said he actually enjoyed the fast-paced schedule.
“I’m a person who likes to stay busy,” he said. “If I’m busy, then my mind is OK, but if there’s breaks in-between then my mind fades away.”
McCloskey added that being in the same classes with the same people does have benefits.
“If we’re struggling in a class, then it’s obvious, and we know how to help each other,” she said. “We know each other’s personalities so we try to help as much as we can.”
And it’s not all class all the time. Each Friday, the students participate in enrichment programs. This year, they visited the state house and various colleges, toured downtown Kokomo and ate at an Indian restaurant in Indianapolis. They’ve also participated in volunteer projects, such as helping at last year’s Duck Derby event and making blankets for the Humane Society.
“We definitely get the college experience at Ivy Tech,” Fulton said. “A lot of students don’t get that, but we get on-campus activity experiences.”