Imagine graduating from high school with two years of college credit already completed. Imagine doing that and still having time as a high school student to focus on a passion such as sports, music, arts or a job shadow. Scholarship opportunities could blossom. Once in college, there could be time for collegiate athletics or arts programs or an internship. A four-year college degree could be completed in two years. A higher-level degree could be attained years ahead of schedule. Now imagine you are the parents helping foot the bill for college. The possibilities are endless.
For 600 ninth- through 12th-grade students and their parents, their imaginations will become reality when the 2016-2017 school year begins.
Oceanside Collegiate Academy will make waves when it opens its doors at full capacity in Carolina Park. It is a public, state-funded charter school with a model unique to Charleston County but soundly proven in similar schools across the country.
OCA offers a variety of scheduling options based on a split schedule in which students attend classes for half of the day and participate in extracurricular activities the other half. Community service hours also are required. Students graduate with a high school diploma and can earn up to 60 hours of transferable college credit.
Dr. Marvin Arnsdorff, the school’s chairman of the board, first learned about the unique model when he provided business consulting services for a charter school management group.
“I didn’t even know there was such a thing,” he said. “It was such an outside-of-the-box approach to education. It would be somewhere students like my own daughter would thrive. I was inspired, and I did something about it. Now here we are, ready to open for the upcoming school year.”
OCA operates on a “whole-school” educational plan. Learning is not compartmentalized into subjects such as English, Math and Science. Rather, the subjects are all interrelated and are taught as such.
“The educational opportunities continue through extracurricular activities and service,” Arnsdorff explained. “There is a relationship between academics and athletics in a job setting. Or, for example, if you want to be a veterinarian, the split schedule would allow you to work for one or perhaps spend time at an equine center.”
While nearby Wando High School is rightfully regarded as one of the top high schools in the nation, OCA’s comparatively small student body, rigorous academic program, split schedule structure and “whole-school” educational plan offer a vastly different option.
“What better opportunity for kids and parents to get two free years of college if they apply themselves,” Arnsdorff said. “That’s the best investment a parent can make.”
The majority of OCA’s students live in Mount Pleasant, but its small, rigorous and unique dual-enrollment program has attracted students from 21 municipalities in South Carolina.
“The students enrolled here work hard in their studies and want to go to college with a purpose or want to go to college and have time to participate in other activities,” Arnsdorff said. “OCA’s mantra is that academics come first, character comes second and extracurriculars come third.”
OCA’s students will learn, grow and contribute to the community in ways previously unavailable to students in Charleston County.
“That this school is opening at full capacity says something about the need,” Arnsdorff beamed. “It’s incredible how engaged the parents and students are. They want options and opportunities, and that’s exciting to me.”
OCA will be located adjacent to the Mount Pleasant Parks and Recreation Fields at Carolina Park. For more information, visit www.oceansidecollegiateacademy.org.
Written by Anne Toole
Photo Provided by OCA.