Instead of seeing new challenges and changes as daunting, Jalen Geason sees them as opportunities to thrive and grow.
When he learned about Howard Community College and the Howard County Public School System’s JumpStart program, he took the chance even though it entailed transferring to a new high school starting his sophomore year. He wanted to earn college and high school credits at the same time.
“I had been in the Long Reach area all my life,” he says. “Switching to River Hill High School was a new experience, but I welcomed it because I know there will be times in the future where I need to get used to being with new people in a new environment. And I thought it would be a great opportunity to take college courses in high school.”
The JumpStart program opened opportunities that Jalen recognized would prove helpful to his education goals in the long run. “I’m always a future thinker,” he says. “I knew it would be a good experience to prepare myself for college and get some college credits that would help with whatever major I choose.”
In tenth and eleventh grade, Jalen took dual enrollment courses in English and calculus that were offered in his high school building with peers as classmates and taught by high school teachers with college-level rigor. Now as a senior, he is enrolled in college physics and English courses led by HCC professors, with other college students as his classmates.
These experiences have imparted lessons that will help make the transition to a four-year university easier. With time management, he says, “I used to finish assignments on the first day, but college material is harder so I couldn’t do that. I became even better at managing my time as I had to figure out what to focus on at different times and how to make progress on completing assignments.”
While the coronavirus pandemic led to his senior-year courses being conducted virtually, Jalen appreciates the opportunity to take the same courses as college students at HCC and get a glimpse into life as a college student.
“Plus, everything that I learned the past two years through JumpStart I was able to apply to the HCC courses this year, which I think was pretty neat,” he says.
After high school, Jalen hopes to attend a four-year college in a new part of the country and is thinking of studying computer science and music. Eventually, his goal is to create a nonprofit startup that would improve technology access for people in developing countries.
According to Jalen, the JumpStart program has provided him with a leg up as he pursues these goals and is well worth the experience.
“Now that colleges are becoming more competitive to get into, and people are looking for ways to leap ahead, I definitely recommend that other students give JumpStart a chance, especially if they are future thinkers like me,” he says. “The courses are rigorous and probably just as impressive on college applications, but you also get the experience of being in a college class, which is very valuable.”