What’s a better way to say goodbye to summer, and hello to fall classes, than over ice cream? Through the end of August, CCV centers across the state hosted Ice Cream Social events for incoming Early College and McClure Free Degree Promise students. 

Parents and students who attend the Ice Cream Socials have the chance to eat free ice cream, learn more about financial aid opportunities, connect with CCV financial aid counselors and representatives from VSAC, get the tools they need to start classes, and start building ties with their peers. For Early College degree program manager Sarah Kresser, the ultimate goal is to ensure success for these students by providing a community to support them. “The number one purpose for us is doing some community building…we really want them to feel connected to CCV and to the other students and to their center. That’s why we call it an Ice Cream Social – we want them to socialize.”

CCV-Winooski was home to smiles, laughter, and scoops of Ben & Jerry’s as they hosted their Ice Cream Social on August 30. CCV President Joyce Judy welcomed students and parents with words of encouragement: “As you look around today there are so many people who are here to support you, so don’t think for a moment you’re on your own. We want to prepare you for your next step, whether that’s a job or continuing your education. Take full advantage of us—we’re committed to your success.”

Student handed ice cream
Courtesy PhotoBen & Jerry’s provided ice cream for attendees at CCV-Winooski’s Ice Cream Social.

The Early College program at CCV is offered to Vermont high school students who want to complete their senior year of high school and first year of college simultaneously. Students spend their entire senior year at CCV as a full-time college student tuition-free. Following their Early College year, students now have the opportunity to to stay at CCV for a second year and earn their associate degree for free through the McClure Free Degree Promise program.

Student-parent duo Aunika and Andi Higbee  attended the CCV-Winooski event. Aunika is entering the Early College program this fall and already has plans to continue into a second year at CCV for free with the McClure Promise program. “When I found out about these programs I realized I have two years to kind of figure out what classes are going to be good for me, what aren’t, what my interests are going to be, and I think it’s going to make it an easier transition when I go to transfer to another college,” Aunika said. “It’s a huge benefit for Aunika so she can find her way in where she wants to go,” Andi agreed. “It seems like a natural fit…it seems like a comfortable transition where it’s not this big college life she has to jump right into. It’s an ease, a simple move. It’s the next step.”

Aiden Roberston is a McClure Promise student serving as an ambassador of the program this fall. “It was mainly the cost savings and the idea of the reputation for résumés” he said of choosing the Early College and McClure Promise programs. “It gives me that helpful boost.” In addition to  a free associate degree, Aiden acknowledged that the College has much more to offer young students. “At CCV you always get tutoring programs, there’s a lot of help up front… It’s fun, you meet a lot of great people here…it’s a big stepping stone.”

“Our goals for these ice cream socials are for Early College students and McClure Promise students to meet each other and to meet CCV staff and get familiar in the building before they begin their semesters,” CCV secondary education program initiative coordinator Dana Oliver reiterated. Sarah Ginnett took this opportunity to explore the CCV-Winooski center ahead of starting her year of Early College this fall. “It’s a really great opportunity to get college for free so that overall I can pay less for college and save money,” Sarah said of choosing the program. “Just being a college student while I’m still in high school feels very free.”

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