When Hannah LaPlaca started her senior year at Mid-Vermont Christian School, many of her classmates already knew what they would do next. Hannah wanted to go to college, but she was anxious about moving away from her family, and worried about taking on debt when she had no clear vision of what she would do with a college degree.
“I was really nervous about what college would be like— that classes would be huge, that I wouldn’t do well—and I wasn’t ready to go far away yet. I needed these two years to figure out what I wanted to do and what route to take. I really didn’t want to go into debt while I was doing this.”
One of five siblings in a close-knit family, Hannah had watched her two older brothers cut costs by taking college- level courses while in high school. Hannah enrolled in an Introduction to College Studies (ICS) course offered after school on Wednesdays at CCV-Upper Valley. CCV’s free ICS course introduces high school students to the language and culture of college while building writing, study, and time-management skills. It also explains the application and financial aid process.
“It was helpful to be with other students who were just as nervous about college as I was, to take the same steps together,” she said. “The instructor showed us ways to find scholarship information, and then she helped us find the ones we qualified for. It really helped not to have to do this alone!”
Students who successfully complete an ICS class receive a voucher for a free college course at any Vermont State or participating college. That summer Hannah used hers at CCV-Upper Valley, and because the small class size worked for her, she enrolled full-time the following fall. She’s taken a broad range of courses (from digital photography, ethics, and environmental studies to statistics) and now has credits to transfer into a four-year college. As a member of the student advisory board, she has enjoyed learning about leadership and meeting CCV students throughout the state. She’s no longer anxious about expanding her horizons and hopes to work with children in the inner city.
But most importantly for Hannah, because of the scholarships and grants she has received, and a flexible class schedule that allows her to work part time, she anticipates graduating next spring with no debt.
“I’m very independent and I don’t want my parents to have to pay for my college. And I think frugally—this is one of the reasons CCV is such a good fit for me.”
Expanded access to CCV’s free ICS course is made possible by the generous support of the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation/ GEAR UP, and the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation, Bari and Peter Dreissigacker, and the Vermont Community Foundation.