High school students celebrate earning nursing credentials from Oakton

High school students celbrating earning a nursing degree

(June 8, 2021) - Each year, Oakton helps high school students get a jump on earning college credit by offering early college opportunities.

Recently, 66 students from Maine East, Maine West, Maine South, Niles North, and Niles West High Schools celebrated earning their first college credential — the Basic Nurse Assistant Training (BNAT) Certificate — through the Oakton Dual Credit Program. Students were recognized for their accomplishments at a recent virtual graduation ceremony.  

This credential qualifies students to work as a nurse’s assistant and is the first step toward entering Oakton’s Registered Nursing Program.

Oakton offers two tracks for students to earn early college credit while still in high school through the college’s Early College Program, which includes the Dual Credit and Concurrent Enrollment Programs. Dual Credit courses are taught at the high school, allowing students to earn both high school and college credit simultaneously. Courses offered through the Concurrent Enrollment Program allow high school students to attend Oakton or take classes online to earn college credit. 

The Oakton Dual Credit Program has grown tremendously over the past few years. This school year, more than 3,300 students enrolled in the program. In addition to students from high schools in Maine and Niles Townships, the program included students from Evanston Township High School, Glenbrook High Schools, New Trier High, Loyola Academy and the Muslim Community Center Academy. 

“There are many benefits for high school students to take early college courses,” said Cindy Nijmeh, Early College Program manager. “These include saving money, earning college credit, experiencing the rigors of college-level academics, gaining flexibility in college by completing credits in high school and gaining confidence in pursuing a college career. At Oakton, we’re finding that our Early College students are persisting at higher rates.”

At the virtual graduation, Oakton President Joianne Smith, Ph.D., shared her enthusiasm with graduates.

“This is a significant accomplishment and you should be very proud of your achievement,” she said. “You accomplished this goal during a global pandemic which is even more impressive. As the Covid-19 pandemic so clearly demonstrated, our health care workers are true heroes. You have selected a credential that will allow you to work in a health care setting and is also the first step on a pathway to many other health careers.”

For more information about Early College opportunities at Oakton, visit www.oakton.edu/earlycollege.