Rowan College at Gloucester County

Graduating College Before High School: Behind The Scenes With Washington Township’s Tom Copsetta

College Relations, Communications, and Marketing
Deptford Twp.
Date: 9/1/2017
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​​Up and coming filmmaker Tom Copsetta enjoys being behind the camera, telling his stories through pictures and audio. Focused on a career in radio, television and film (RTF), the Washington Township High School senior has been busy racking up college credits towards an associate degree at Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC).

​​Copsetta, who participates in the College's High​ School Option Program (HSOP), is on track to graduate next spring with both a high school diploma and an associate degree. At the urging of his guidance counselor to share his RCGC experience and motivate peers to get a head start on college, Copsetta decided to create a video. His HSOP "Graduatin​g College before High School" video can be viewed on the high school's website.

"Tom is a very focused and determined young man. He has had the maturity and foresight to realize the numerous benefits of taking classes through the HSOP program," said Washington Township High School Counselor Linda Salkowski.  "Tom is eager and more than happy to spread the word and encourage other students to also take advantage of this opportunity that has served him so well. Upon high school graduation in 2018, Tom will realize his dream to enter Rowan University as a junior radio, television, and film major. I couldn't be more proud of him."

"Saving time, saving money, there's really no excuse not to do it," noted the aspiring filmmaker with more than 30 college credits in the bank. "You will save two years of college, thousands of dollars and it is a really good program. It's also a great confidence booster. My parents are very proud of me and I'm saving them money."

Designed to provide high school students with the opportunity to take college courses at a 65 percent discount off of tuition and per-credit fees, the credits can be applied to an RCGC associate degree program or easily transferred to other colleges and universities. The number of classes is not limited and can be taken during the College's fall, winter, spring and summer terms. As an added bonus, RCGC credits may also satisfy high school graduation requirements.

"Through HSOP, students have the ability to receive personalized academic advisement, complete any required remediation, explore career pathways and satisfy general education electives necessary to earn a college degree," said Megan Ruttler, RCGC's director of the Center for College and Career Readiness.  "This program provides students and families with exposure to navigating higher education processes as well as the tremendous discount.  By focusing on tomorrow, you can save thousands today."

With a personal interest in short films and video with music, Copsetta plans to follow his passion and pursue a bachelor's degree in radio, television and film at Rowan University. And although he will receive his associate degree in May, his time at RCGC will not be done. The honor student's strategy to continue to save money while earning a bachelor's degree also includes RCGC's "3+1" option.

"RCGC's High School Option and 3+1 programs are really a good way to save money," said Copsetta. "The big thing is not to procrastinate. I take online classes, even during the summer."

​Unique in New Jersey, RCGC's "3+1" program provides yet another viable alternative for students seeking to earn a four-year degree at a reduced price. Currently, RCGC offers six "3+1" majors — one of which is RTF — where students complete three years of coursework at the College and take their senior year at Rowan University. Junior-year courses, with a community college price tag, are taught by advanced-degree faculty and offer substantial savings. For the student starting college as a freshman, the savings can amount to more than $25,000. For high school students taking advantage of the HSOP's 65 percent discount, even more. The latest in a series of partnership programs with Rowan University implemented to help save students money, the Rowan "3+1" option was featured in Money Magazine in January as one of the top college affordability initiatives in the country.

From a parent's perspective, encouraging her son to take college courses while still in high school has proven to be a big confidence builder. "This is a great program for the traditional high school student. I have seen Tom grow so much and become more goal oriented," said Candy Copsetta. "The HSOP experience provides high school students with a taste of college at an early age. It has allowed Tom to visualize his future and to make his own choices about what classes and instructors to take. My son will graduate with a bachelor's degree by the time he is 19 years old. It is feasible and possible with this program. It opens up a whole world of possibilities."

To learn more about the College's HSOP program, visit RCGC.edu or watch https://youtu.be/q_ZjGd30HMQ​. To view Tom Copsetta's HSOP video, visit wtps.org.  

​Rowan College at Gloucester County's 250-acre campus is located on Tanyard Road in Deptford, just off Exit 56 of Route 55.