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Student earns college degree before high school diploma

James+Rodrigue+II+%28middle%29+shows+off+his+associate%E2%80%99s+degree+from+Nicholls+State+University+which+he+obtained+before+graduating+from+high+school.+Nicholls+University+registrar+Kelly+Rodrigue+%28left%29+and+James+Rodrigue+%28right%29%2C+James+II%E2%80%99s+grandfather%2C+also+graduated+from+Nicholls.
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Student earns college degree before high school diploma

James Rodrigue II (middle) shows off his associate’s degree from Nicholls State University which he obtained before graduating from high school. Nicholls University registrar Kelly Rodrigue (left) and James Rodrigue (right), James II’s grandfather, also graduated from Nicholls.

James Rodrigue II (middle) shows off his associate’s degree from Nicholls State University which he obtained before graduating from high school. Nicholls University registrar Kelly Rodrigue (left) and James Rodrigue (right), James II’s grandfather, also graduated from Nicholls.

Photo by: Misty McElroy

James Rodrigue II (middle) shows off his associate’s degree from Nicholls State University which he obtained before graduating from high school. Nicholls University registrar Kelly Rodrigue (left) and James Rodrigue (right), James II’s grandfather, also graduated from Nicholls.

Photo by: Misty McElroy

Photo by: Misty McElroy

James Rodrigue II (middle) shows off his associate’s degree from Nicholls State University which he obtained before graduating from high school. Nicholls University registrar Kelly Rodrigue (left) and James Rodrigue (right), James II’s grandfather, also graduated from Nicholls.

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James Rodrigue II will be graduating high school this May with an edge because he’s already gotten a college degree from Nicholls State University under his belt.

Through an articulation agreement with Louisiana School for Math Science and Arts and Nicholls state, combined with hours earned from the ACT, credit exams and residence hours, James was able to graduate Nicholls State last December with an associate’s degree of general studies in the middle of his senior year of high school at the LSMSA in Natchitoches, Louisiana. James’ ADGS degree also makes him the third generation Colonel alumni in his family, directly behind his father Kelly Rodrigue, the University Registrar and Director of Records and Registration.

Rodrigue helped to start the articulation agreement between LSMSA and Nicholls in 2004, which helps high school students obtain college credit for courses before they graduate. He said they are looking to create a dual program that will allow students to pick up an associate’s degree in time for graduation, and that they may or may not have something like that in place for next year. But James getting his college diploma just happened to fall together, Rodrigue said.

“Things just fit into place, and it was quite by accident,” Rodrigue said. “We realized where he was in the degree audit and that with a couple of substitutions he’s essentially done. So it was really surprising happened the way it did.”

“I’m in a pretty fortunate situation,” said James. “And I just thought it would be pretty neat to have an associate’s degree before I even get my high school diploma.”

With the articulation agreement, testing out of classes and the nine hours he took over last summer on campus, James said he’s accumulated 88 hours of college credit, and that the workload of taking college level courses while he was in high school wasn’t much different from what he was taught to do in LSMSA.

“We go to a boarding school, so we have to be self-sufficient and get up for classes,” said James. “We have to get our homework done without mom and dad telling us to do it. So taking these courses is pretty average for where I am. Most of us excel in a field or two and we take classes in them, as well as the rigorous classes we have to take to graduate.”

Very few receive their college degree so young, though. James plans to continue his education at Nicholls this fall to pursue bachelor’s degrees in math and music. Even if he had gotten a great offer from another university, he said he really likes the familiarity of the Nicholls campus and faculty that he’s known since he was little.

As far as advice to students looking for a way to get ahead, James said he recommends a little initiative, and looking into going to LSMSA.

“I think it’s a great place to be and to live and to learn,” James said. “But for anybody for whom that’s not an option, then I suggest to take classes and study what you’re interested in beyond just what you’re going to learn in school, especially if you are serious about something to the point where you want to pursue it academically and have a career in it. Study as much as you can and learn as much as you can about it.”

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The student newspaper of Nicholls State University
Student earns college degree before high school diploma