Enrolling in college classes ahead of time has presented Nate Hammock of Carson City with a more challenging education. Itâ€™s also an opportunity to jump-start his future.
Through Western Nevada Collegeâ€™s Jump Start college program, the Pioneer High School junior is earning dual credit for the classes he is taking, putting him on course to graduate with an Associate of Science degree before he receives his high school diploma.
â€œItâ€™s a wonderful opportunity, one of best opportunities Iâ€™ve ever received,â€ said Hammock, who was 16 when he started the program. â€œI came here and I no longer felt like a high school student. Responsibility kicked in pretty quick.
â€œThe most important part of being able to do this is it not only helps my resume but with other colleges and programs that I want to get into.â€
Last fall, WNC launched Jump Start, a partnership between the college and 11 western Nevada high schools. It offers high-achieving junior and senior students the opportunity to earn up to a college associate degree prior to high school graduation.
Hammock learned about Jump Start just prior to his junior year at Pioneer. Since he had already passed an Algebra II class at Pioneer, he needed only to take aptitude tests to qualify.
In his first year at WNC, Hammock has taken English 101 and 102, Precalculus, General Chemistry, World Religion, Anthropology and early American history classes.
â€œI knew going into college classes that theyâ€™d be a challenge; thatâ€™s what I was looking for,â€ Hammock said. â€œThe classes are little more difficult, but they are better. They push me to be a better student.â€
One of the major changes for Hammock the college student is the amount of time that he now spends studying.
â€œThis is where you really have to study,â€ said Hammock, who typically studies four hours between classes, several more hours at night and even more on weekends. â€œItâ€™s been hard studying, and itâ€™s been hard writing essays, but none of it has been too bad. Iâ€™ve missed out on a couple of video games, but if I could go back and do the semester again, Iâ€™d do more studying.â€
Hammock said he has met many new people and fits in like any other college student.
â€œI find it easier to study here with students than I would at high school,â€ he said. â€œI not only study with other Jump Start students, but I also study with college students. We get together to work on math and itâ€™s helped with essays. Studying isnâ€™t so bad when you are studying with friends or studying at the cafÃ©. Studying is even better when you get good test scores back.â€
A middle school science club sparked Hammockâ€™s interest in science and now he is determined to spend the rest of his life associated with physics and chemistry.
â€œPart of me always wanted to be a rocket scientist,â€ Hammock said. â€œIâ€™m going to look into applying at Berkeley and Penn State. I want to get my bachelorâ€™s degree, my masterâ€™s and hopefully one day Iâ€™ll get a Ph.D. in science.
â€œThis has given me a pretty good idea what kind of degree and career I want. Most people donâ€™t think about that until after completing high school.â€
After earning a 3.52 GPA during his first semester in Jump Start, Hammock qualified for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He has applied for an officer position and wants the honor society to become more visible and active in the community.
As his first year in the Jump Start College nears an end, Hammock wouldnâ€™t hesitate to recommend the program to future high school juniors.
â€œItâ€™s one decision that Iâ€™ve made that Iâ€™ll never regret for my entire college career,â€ Hammock said. â€œIf they want to do it, they should do everything they can to do it.â€ Hammock.